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Botti was also the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts which allowed him to study with trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman during two consecutive summer breaks.Botti left Indiana University during his senior year for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich.The album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.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.His earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher.He started playing the trumpet at nine-years-old, and committed to the instrument at age 12 when he heard Miles Davis play "My Funny Valentine".In 1981, he was selected as a member of Mc Donald's All American High School Jazz band which marked his first Carnegie Hall performance.At the age of 17, he ended up at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, by convincing his high school to allow him to fulfill his remaining senior year credits there.
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".
Chris constructed the scenario so that he could also play at Portland clubs in the evening.
Mount Hood's program was headed by Larry Mc Vey, whose band had come to be a proving ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé when they were looking for new players.