All that Jazz!!!

Last Thursday December 1st, 2005

YES!!! I missed Chris Botti opening up for Josh Groban in Vegas, and i missed him at the Greek back in October. But today!! I shall see him for sure!!! What got me even more excited is that he will be joined with special guests for a Live DVD and a PBS special. Who will be joining him?? Sting, Jill Scott, Gladys Knight, Renee Olstead, Paul Buchanan, Bert Bacharach and Paula Cole. Mother effin RENEE OLSTEAD!! She gone on tour with BB King on a few dates and i wanted to go just to see her. I haven’t heard her whole debut album just yet, but the duets she’s done with Chris Botti are amazing, and made me fall in love with her. Plus she’s also a little cutie.
I decided to plan a full day of fun in LA. Its a Thursday and didn’t have much planned to do. I did have a meeting with to install some hardware for a client from the company i just recently joined. I wanted to hit up the [LA] Weekly to meet up with Ben and go over our Christmas card list for our various contacts and what not to give some thanks. Time was a crunch though.
Headed over to FIDM, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Picked up Leslie from outta her class. Never been there before and wanted to see what its all about. I didnt know it was downtown, like literary downtown LA, pretty close to the Staples Center and Convention Center.

First stop of the day, the Beverly Center. I’ve never been there and passed by it after leaving the Tyra Banks party. I was like, oh wow, lets see what’s the big deal about this place is. When i was doing research and making sure where I was going today. Beverly Center, Robertson Ave, and Wilshire Theatre pretty much were in the same few square mile radius.
I guess Leslie wanted to hit up Loehmann’s. A block away from the Beverly Center and it was a place to park. I guess the whole concept of this store was top name designer brands at a pretty good discount. I honestly didn’t want to look around because its depressing to shop when you cant buy everything you want. Plus i didn’t see much, the whole place was like a designer brand TJ MAXX or Ross. When i say designer brands i mean like Armani, Juicy Couture, Marc Jacobs, and so on.. I wanted to pick up this Juicy Couture purse for someone, someone who said if i got it for them for Christmas, they would get me my William Rast jacket… Ehh.. Im too impatient, and lack a trust bone in my body. My plan was to just get it myself today…
After some depressing shopping. Walked on over to the Beverly Center. The way that place is set up with pretty cool. From the street, you gotta get on like 5 escalators before you get on the first floor of the shopping mall. While going up each escalator, you see the parking complex.
Seeming like i was taking the escalators to see my creator, right around the corner on the last escalator was heaven. A shoppers heaven! I wanted to hit up Bloomingdales, since the William Rast line is supposed to be selling there. This is what shopping is all about. The great band of clothing, not too high end like Versace, but about middle such as Energie, and French Connection. That had each brand in their own little section along the wall and around the middle. It was very organized and you don’t have to search your way through types of clothing. It was pretty rad. They had a 40 to 50 percent off sale on most of the stuff and man i wanted some stuff. Again depressing.. What can you do? Still looking for that sugamomma!!
Walked around the place a little bit to get a feel of the stores and what not. Very very high end shops, but what do you expect for being in Beverly Hills. Off to Robertson Ave baby!! My jacket was waiting for me at Kitson..
For whatever effin reason, the streets didn’t make any sense!! One said was saying North and the numbers would ascended, and the other side would be South descending. However, pass a block and it would be opposite. I just didn’t get it and dude i swear i think i turned around about 5 times in about 30 mins. I was getting so dang irritated and what got me on edge was i didn’t know which light had a red light camera. I would think about passing the same intersection about 3 times, i would know. But i didn’t even pay attention at all. Passed by the pretty famous Kabblah center that Madonna frequents and Paris Hilton has been seen there.

I eventually just kept on going North until the area looked familiar. I’ve seen it many times on those Entertainment shows about celebrities shopping there with paparazzi swarming around. Parked in a neighborhood that allowed parking until 6 without a permit. It was 5:30 PM, just an easy come in and go. Walking around the corner, i see high above on the buildings, lights flashing. Didn’t know what it was, but once i turned the corner on Robertson Ave. I see the flashes come closer, and guys holding cameras. I see a tall, and somewhat attractive girl getting photographed. Of course, it had to be someone of somewhat importance. Well not importance, but someone worth having those flash bulbs go off. It was Tara Reid, the part girl herself. He was wearing heels, and was looking pretty slim and fit. Compared to her canceled Taradise, where she looks really trashy, drunk, and rather padded. Today, she looked really really hot. Then i wished i took out my sidekick phone to take a pic for the heck of it. Oh well, Kitson was right there and just went on in. I didn’t want to waste anytime, because i was sure id get more depress looking at all this great clothes and not being able to purchase it. Got some help, got the jacket, checked it out in the mirror, bought it and off we go. The person who helped me told me the line has only been out 2 Thursday ago, i know Kitson premiered the line. Im hoping im on of the few, better if first to sport this jacket and line. Walked into the Lisa Kline Mens store, and again more amazing clothes. BLAH!!..
Back to the car, and changed into the jacket. Hung out a little bit, and thought to find something to eat. I haven’t eaten all day, and it was 6 and Leslie didn’t eat anything else. Didn’t know where to eat and i didn’t care, Leslie found her mothers ATM card that she said she didn’t have. Headed off to Bank of America. She wanted this jacket at Loehmann’s jacket but couldn’t pull enough out from the account. Oh well. As i think about it, the store name pretty much sounds like Low Man’s. I just thought that was a little something.
Back to Robertson Ave, since Leslie saw a jacket she wanted at Kitson. Again not enough, and time for dinner. I wanted to hit up The Farm. Just wasn’t too sure where it was. The Newsroom was on Robertson, but i really wanted to eat at the Farm, since its Josh Groban fave restaurant, and i wanted to see what’s so good about the place. But just decided to eat at The Ivy. One of the most celebrity sighted restaurant in Los Angeles. Theres no celebrity who hasnt really been there, seen there, or been photographed there.
The front looked alot longer on tv, but everything looks bigger on tv. So it wasn’t a big surprised, well it was a big surprise but anywho. Went on in and got a table. The host who was seating people, asked us if we wanted patio or inside. Of course i wanted to be outside, and he made sure we relieved the table at 8:30. From my experience, well not experience but knowledge, they usually reserve prime seating at posh LA eateries for celebrities who call in last second or just walk on in. I know Koi, the ultra posh sushi/Japanese joint makes sure you leave the booths by 6:30. Afterwards, it only there for celebrities. Hate to admit it, but they do get royal treatment and are pretty elite compares to normal everyday people.

I reassured him we had to leave before 8 anyways, and we weren’t going to tie up their tables. Ordered our ice teas which was infused with mint flavor. Don’t know if i liked it much, but whatever. If you read my post about Vegas and eating at Mesa Grill. How i initially thought they were famous for crab cakes, it was The Ivy that was famous of it. I cant really describe the general theme of the restaurant. Id say something like American with some French i suppose? Who knows! Ordered the crab cakes to start and was told the specials. Nothing really caught my eye on the menu, and plus i had to keep it fairly inexpensive. Too bad that was hardly the case. I ordered the Lobster Risotto, which was one of the many specials of the night. Hey, i liked me some lobster, and Risotto had to be good. I mean i always see it being made on the Food Network, but never really had it, especially if its at a restaurant that i know would make it good. Suhh good!!
Started off with some bread. Don’t know what it was, some loaf of some sort, but it was good to start. Crabcakes came out really fast. They were decent, but i found nothing special about them. The sauce they had with it wasn’t too heavy but i had to squeeze on more lemon to get some sort of flavor out of the cakes. Quite frankly, i wasnt really impressed.
Sitting there conversing with Leslie. I overheard some Hollywood chatter from a nearby table. Something very typical in the city of Los Angeles, but i love to hear about it. The service here was impeccable. Its one of those places where your drink is topped off, if you take a sip, they would refill it type place. Most of the time, that sort of stuff would be annoying, but it was bearable here.
Now for the main course. My Lobster risotto and Leslie got some chicken enchiladas. She’s such a Mexican, but she isn’t but you get the racial stereotype. HAHA.. The plates the food came in were huge!! For good reason, there was a lot of food!! I had the risotto, where it was on top of the lobster shell they used in the risotto. Cut opened and lay flat, with the risotto just on top. It looked suhhh damn good!! The basil on top worked well with the lobster, and man there was a lot of lobster in it. I said maybe a good 5 pds lobster perhaps?? I don’t know but i was enjoying the shit out of it. However half way through, i was thinking to myself. I don’t know if lobster was in season or not, but it’s generally pretty expensive. On top of that, gourmet risotto?? Man i was so screwed when the check comes. What made me laugh, is i think today or yesterday i was watching Gilmore Girls. The episode where the food critic didnt like Suki’s “magical risotto.” Reason he didnt like it because he didn’t have the right wine to go with it. I was like, hmmm.. i would have ordered some wine with it. But im sure it had to be a certain kind of wine for the risotto, but since there’s fish, well shellfish it would be a different kind of wine. Enjoyed every bit of it. Which i was told isn’t proper etiquette. Leslie tells me, you have to leave 10 percent of the food left. Who the fuck says that?? Dude children are dying all over world. We, and when i said we i mean Americans, waste enough resources already. C’mon now!! Plus big bucks are being shoveled out for this food, enjoy every single bit of it. I worked as a chef at a restaurant, and the crap that gets thrown away every night is just plan uncalled for.
Oh so i get the check.. And to my disbelief, but not surprise. My damn lobster and pretty much rice was around 50 bucks. Nice huh? Love it.. And our ice teas? 5 bucks each. Hurray!! The total of the check was 109, the 20 percent tip. Came out to be 130. All in a days work baby! HAHA.. Ehh..

Off to the Wilshire Theatre.. to see Chris Botti. Hurray!! I was soo excited, i couldn’t believe. I was equally excited for Renee Olstead. Parked in the complex next door to the theatre. Saw other people i was sure was going tot he show. All dressed up and what not. I usually go dressed up but today i wanted to sport the William Rast jacket and represent. But i had a change of heart, and just put back on my button up shirt and had my blazer with me and changed into that.
Good thing i did, while waiting in line for get my tickets. There was a couple in a dressy dress and her date was wearing a tuxedo. Got my tickets and went inside to meet with Vanessa who was handling the photographers. It was good to see her, and met Chris Botti publicist and talked to her a little bit. While standing around with them i see Brian Avnet. I met and talked to Brian back at Sondheim’s at the Hollywood Bowl. He is Josh Groban’s manager and also Michael Buble’s. I caught up with him and talked to him a little bit. Saw how he was doing, and asked about Josh and Michael. He mentioned he was there for Renee, and i totally didn’t know that he was her manager also. I know she was on Josh and Michaels same label and David Foster produces their music, but i guess Brian manages Renee also. It was good to talk to Brian, since he’s such an awesome guy and very friendly. However, i was kicking myself, i kicked myself for not getting his card at the bowl and not asking for it again. I am so air heady when it comes to certain things, certain people and what not.
We had to shoot photos from the balcony which i thought kinda sucked. However good thing i had my long lens. There were two other photographers, i think a house photographer and the other was a photographer for Smooth Jazz magazine. Hung out for a little and man it was hot up there. Chatted with Vanessa. She’s such an awesome person. Haven’t had much conversation with her much before.

Chris Botti came on stage around 8:05 for the taping. Had a full orchestra to back him up. As i look around the theatre, its a lot smaller than other venues ive been at. It really gave the whole intimate feel with Chris, which is pretty awesome.
The started off with “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Chris in a very clean cut suit with a purple dress shirt under. Next was “When I Fall in Love.” The first song i shot near the other photographers on the side balcony and afterwards i headed off to the middle of the balcony and to the other side. The best place to shoot was where we were initially at. Gave me a better view and had Chris bigger in my shot. The last song we were allowed to shoot was “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” one of my favorite songs of Chris. So it was kinda hard to shoot, however i just shot and shot away.
The song after the third i wasn’t too sure about. It didn’t matter since i had to pack up and check in my equipment so that i can watch the rest of the show. One of the head dudes of the theatre, Ralph lead us into the office on the semi second floor of the place. Checked it on in and went to my seat. A way better view than on the balcony.
Sting was next.. Performing “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life.” Dressed in a grayish jacket, pinstripe slacks, and a skinny scarf. He was looking really good, and his voice was just as amazing.
Next, Paula Cole comes out to sing, “My One and Only Love.” Her voice was soo magical on this song, live and on the album. Dressed in this suit type deal, her harmony with Botti’s trumpet is heavenly. She hung around for the next song, “The Look of Love” with Bert Bacharach who composed this song on the piano.
Chris told a story about how he watched Cinema Paradiso with his mother in Italy. How it was one of the sadness movies he seen with subtitles. The main song from the movie, “Se” ive learn about the song hearing Josh Groban album. It was a nice rendition on the trumpet. The backdrop had what i assumed as Italy’s skyline. What came down from above were two lighted lamp things. It was really awesome.

The guest stars didn’t stop at all. One after the other came on coming out. The weird thing is that Chris seemed to perform off set. Like he doesn’t perform with a set list of songs, or maybe he didn’t tonight because of the DVD taping and everyone backstage. Jill Scott, next on the menu. Singing “Good morning Heartache.” Chris told a story about the writer of this song or something. I found it kinda hopeful. I mean like i think im totally a hopeless romantic, that’s the only kind of romance worth having. Find that other half you’d are totally in love with. Anyways. The story.. This dude was with this chick, but was dumped for a richer man. Many many years go by, and she calls him out of nowhere. He talks to her like they never missed a beat and go out a few times. A month or 3 later they decided to get married, and both are still married 30 years later. I think that’s soo like incredible, so they go to London and watch Chris and Jill redo this song, well an updated version. I saw Jill Scott months ago on the Sugar Water Festival, and she blew the other ladies out of the water.
Now for what i was waiting for. To see Renee Olstead perform live, and to hear her live with my own ears. Dressed very casually with what i remember were jeans, a red T-Shirt with a white sleeveless button up? Her beautiful red locks big and up seeming not to move with im sure plenty applied aqua net. Prior to her going up, i was making sure i was aware Brian was at. He was pretty much sitting a few rows in front of me next to one of the video cameras recording the show. I had to make sure i got his card this time, or I was just going to kick myself again. Well i see Brian leave right before Renee gets on stage, and that’s pretty much the last time i saw him that night. Renee sang, “Pennies From Heaven.” I really wanted to hear “Sunday Kind of Love” which is on Renee’s album, but this was Chris’ night.. sniff.. Such a beauty, visually and vocally.

Chris Botti said a few things that is very very true. Jazz, appeals pretty much mainly to an adult audience. Saying how shows like American Idol gives kids the ideas that you just be a rock star over night. How kids wont get the idea to learn an instrument or whatever, just be a rock star. He finally concluded that parents should take their kids out to an orchestra show. I believe that is true.
Segwaying to “My Funny Valentine” he says Miles Davis is his American Idol. Chris came out to the audience to serenade someone out there. I bet on the DVD it would look like it was something random, being there it looked like a few members of the audience relocated to where he was. Midway through the song, Sting came back on stage to put some vocals on this track. It was quite humorous due to certain lyrics of the song he sang to Chris. Lyrics such as “Your looks are laughable, unphotographical” That was quite quite a riot. You have to understand Chris and Sting have been working together for years. Chris started off in Paul Simon band but then was promoted into Sting’s band for many years before he went out on his own.
Paul Buchanan came out to sing “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” Im not too sure if he really wanted to be there. He came out with a bottle of water, and i mean sang out the song, but i felt a vibe of imma sing and leave and that’s it.
Final song of the night, “Why Not.” An instrumental set with a huge drum solo. Billy Kilson was the drummer. He rocked it out, one of the best drum solos ive heard live let alone anywhere else. Awesome!!
Chris brought out everyone who performed tonight to do a final bow. Someone who was missing from the night was Gladys Knight, but i figured he would be there tomorrow with everyone or maybe just a handful of the performers tonight. I don’t know. I know it was a sold out night tomorrow and tonight wasn’t even close. Sting hung around to rock out the house with “Message in a Bottle” with Chris’ trumpeting. It was really really amazing!!

The show was done, and man i wish was going to go see the show tomorrow. Oh well, went to go meet with Ralph to get my camera and Michael Keaton walks by me. Wow hes looking pretty old. Got my camera and i was out of the place. I wanted to catch up with Brian, but its all good. I can get his contact info a little later. Just need to get my list together so i can send out Brian a card and some candy or whatever.
All and all a great day. visited the Beverly Center, got my jacket, saw Tara Reid, dinner at the ultra posh trendy IVY restaurant, and saw a great great concert!
Check out the live concert on PBS during March and the DVD sometime in February

About Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen is a Los Angeles based freelance photographer. Over the past six years, he has covered various concerts, movie premieres, red carpets, parties, and events. A southern California native, Anh attended UCLA and holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a minor in Accounting. In addition to photography, he is currently pursuing his license as a CPA and hopes to go law school. Adding to his many interests, Anh also loves to cook and has worked as a line cook for Food Network's celebrity chef Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta, in Beverly Hills.