Two former students of Mt. Hood Community College have made waves in the music world recently.

In February, trumpeter Chris Botti won a Grammy in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for “Impressions,” a wide-ranging 13-song record that features Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Mark Knopfler, David Foster and Caroline Campbell.

Meanwhile, saxophonist-singer Patrick Lamb’s “Maceo,” a funky danceable instrumental tribute to Maceo Parker, hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Contemporary airplay charts a couple of weeks ago.

Both musicians recently talked with The Outlook about their success.

Botti, Botti good

Botti attended Mt. Hood from 1980-81, when he was 17. The Corvallis native studied under Larry McVey, whom he credits for nurturing his career, along with Ron Steen, a well-known jazz drummer in Portland. Botti says began playing Portland nightclubs when he was still too young to drink in them.

“I’d have to stay on the stage when the band would take a break in the middle of a gig,” he says, noting he couldn’t be near the bar legally.

He adds that his time at Mt. Hood, in Portland’s jazz scene and then at Indiana University paid off when none other than Frank Sinatra tapped him for a brief stint in his band when he was fresh out of college.

“I played a solo ... and he said to me, ‘Nice solo, kid,’” Botti says. “I misinterpreted that to mean we were best friends.”

He went up to Sinatra after a show and proceeded to pepper him with questions. Sinatra was gracious to his young sideman, but the singer’s people were watching.

“His assistant was like, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t bother Mr. Sinatra so much,’” Botti says with a chuckle.

The trumpeter counts other famous people among his friends, including Sting, with whom Botti played and recorded from 1999-2001.

“The sophisticated nature of his popular music is very attractive to me,” Botti says.

Botti also has performed and/or recorded with Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell and others. He notes he’s pleased with his Grammy, and he advises young musicians who want to attain similar heights to practice, practice, practice.

“I think the fundamentals of any instrument are so important,” he says, telling players to concentrate on scales and tone. “You can learn discipline. You can learn to channel the good things in life.”

On the Lamb

Lamb notes he passed up on some other schools to jam at Mt. Hood from 1989-90.

“I received scholarships to the University of Oregon and Brigham Young but wanted to attend Mt. Hood because it was located around a larger music scene where I was working all the time,” Lamb says.

He credits his music instructor, Dave Burduhn, for inspiring him.

“He worked playing and performing and arranging for Stan Kenton and really (taught me) some of the first theory that I ever had.”

Lamb has appeared in Gresham on a number of occasions, most recently last summer, when he played at Gresham’s Center for the Arts Plaza in late July. He also performed at the college’s foundation fundraiser in 2010.

Recently inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, Lamb says meeting famous sax player Maceo Parker, who’s blown funky solos with James Brown and George Clinton, among many others, inspired “Maceo!”

“I actually had the specific idea to take the groove from James Brown’s ‘Super Bad’ song and write a new song around it based on a Maceo Parker vibe,” Lamb says. “We had opened up for Maceo recently, and I was thinking about how inspired I was to meet him and how he had influenced me and how my approach I felt was somewhat similar.”

Lamb says he’s surprised “Maceo!” has gotten so much airtime.

“I didn’t think ‘Maceo!’ would get much play because it’s a funky, choppy little James Brown song that was most likely too funky for radio,” he says.

Lamb has toured with singers Diane Schuur, Bobby Caldwell and Gino Vannelli, and like Botti, he advises aspiring musicians to learn the tricks of the trade.

“A good sideman learns every note the way it was executed (on record) and then takes some liberties if that is needed and works hard to play meaningful solos that add to the sum of the parts,” he says.

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