Botti left Indiana University during his senior year for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich.In 1985, he moved to New York City to hone his craft as a studio musician.
In 1990, he began a decade long touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon which broadened his exposure to other singers. During that period, he also performed/recorded with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Scritti Politti, Roger Daltrey and others.
On August 15, 1991, Botti performed with Paul Simon in New York’s Central Park as part of The Rhythm of the Saints tour. The performance was commercially released as the Concert in the Park CD.
While on tour with Simon, he met saxophonist Michael Brecker, which led to Botti co-producing a track on the Brecker Brothers’ Out of the Loop titled “Evocations”. The album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.
Verve recordings (1995-2000)
Botti’s solo debut, First Wish, was released in 1995; his second effort, Midnight Without You, which included a collaboration with Blue Nile vocalist Paul Buchanan, appeared in 1997.
These were followed by Slowing Down The World in 1999, which included vocal contributions from Sting and Jonatha Brooke (also on the Midnight Without You release).
Botti was also a member of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, a more experimental, jazz fusion-oriented group. He composed the score and recorded a soundtrack for the 1996 film Caught.
In 1999, Botti was invited to tour with Sting as a featured soloist in the Brand New Day tour. The two-year run culminated in All This Time, a CD/DVD-taping and webcast performance from Sting’s estate in Tuscany on September 11, 2001. Botti attributes his relationship with Sting as having changed the course of his career.
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