Raising awareness of hearing loss prevention is a personal thing for trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti — who is starring in a new public service campaign from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE), and brought in his friend Sting as narrator. Asked about people in his life who are dealing with hearing loss, he is quick to respond: “Every musician.
“If you’re playing live — any performing musician, it’s just inevitable that it’s going to happen. It’s kind of one of the downfalls of the business I’m in, because if you’re onstage with a loud symbol behind you all night long, it’s going to affect you. It makes me want to do anything I can to heighten the awareness for people to understand that as they get older, their hearing is going to lose its luster…Getting it checked and wearing earplugs when possible, and ear guards, that can help.”
The sexy trumpet man himself doesn’t wear ear plugs. “It’s the worst, because with a trumpet, it’s hard to explain, but if you wear earplugs, you hear your internal sounds, the buzzing of your lips, rather than the music. Musicians like rock drummers and guitarists — and there are millions of them around the world — can wear earplugs. They have ones that are clear and no one knows they’re there.”
Botti’s involvement in the campaign also includes his presence at the NYEE gala in November — with the winner of NYEE’s Favorite Sounds sweepstakes and 10 friends as his table mates. Contest entries will consist of videos that capture people’s favorite sounds. (Information can be found at iLikeMyHearing.org.) May is National Hearing Month, but the NYEE plans to keep the campaign going all year.
MEANWHILE: Botti, who tours 300 days a year, has just come out with his latest recording, Impressions” — with one of the most wide-ranging lists of composers and guest artists you’ll find on any album. “The unifying theme was probably to make it as non-unified as we could,” he says with a laugh. But Botti’s polished sound serves as the tie that binds them all together. “Through the years I’ve made records that have a certain space, a certain sheen — very audiophile — and that sort of links them together whether you’re doing an R. Kelly song, or Michael Jackson, or Mark Knopfler. It just kind of rolls off rather nicely,” he says. “And I’m very proud of the eclectic nature of this, to go from Andrea Bocelli to Vince Gill to David Foster is a real thrill for me.”