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Turlock-bound trumpeter jumps musical boundaries

From one instrument comes many styles for trumpeter Chris Botti.

The Grammy-nominated musician has coaxed jazz, pop, rock and even a little opera out of his brass instrument. While he came up as a contemporary jazz artist, the 45-year-old performer has transcended the genre thanks to his boundary-crossing sound and youthful blonde looks.

Television audiences will recognize him as the former house band leader for the "The Caroline Rhea Show." Music fans will recognize him from his 10 solo albums and nonstop touring schedule.

Botti will perform Saturday at Turlock Community Theatre.

As an instrumentalist, composer and performer, he released his first solo album in 1995. His latest album, 2007's "Italia," received a Grammy Award nomination for best pop instrumental album. He has performed and recorded with artists including Sting, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Andrea Bocelli and Paula Cole.

Botti was raised in Oregon, and his interest in music began at age 8. By 12, he knew he wanted to be a professional musician, and by high school, he was playing shows. He studied at Indiana University and then moved to New York afterward to begin his career.

Earlier this month, Botti performed two sold-out concerts with the Boston Pops with conductor Keith Lockhart at Symphony Hall. The show was taped for broadcast next spring as a musical special and DVD for PBS. The live performance also will be released as a CD later this year.

The show, like Botti's own style, showcased his range. He opened with "Ave Maria" and along the way performed renditions of everything from Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" to Pavarotti's "Caruso," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and even the theme from the soap opera "The Young and the Restless."

Helping him out was a star-studded lineup including Sting (Botti was his trumpeter for two years on his "Brand New Day" tour), cellist Yo-Yo Ma, classical pop vocalist Josh Groban, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, singer/guitarist John Mayer and "American Idol's" Katharine McPhee, among others.

Botti's touring band played along with the Boston Pops. His ensemble includes pianist Billy Childs, drummer Billy Kilson and guitarist Mark Whitfield.

"We're going from classical music to jazz stuff from Miles Davis' catalog to rock 'n' roll all within the span of a very, very short time with really legendary people," Botti told the Associated Press in a telephone interview before the concert. "It's like driving a Ferrari I suppose."

The special isn't Botti's first for PBS. In 2005, he recorded the successful "Chris Botti Live With Orchestra and Special Guests" at Los Angeles' Wilshire Theater.

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