Curtis Stigers album reviews. Read what “the experts” are saying.
Curtis Stigers is the rare breed of talent that can embrace the Great American Songbook while keeping the music utterly contemporary. A resounding triumph!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Tim Brennan, No Depression Magazine
There was a time when some people wrote song and some people sang songs. The two rarely mixed. In that era of Tin Pan Alley and the songwriting mills, Curtis Stigers would have been a demi god. As he displays on Let’s Go Out Tonight, he can take well written songs and wring every bit of melody and emotion out of them. Songwriters would be inventing ways to get Stigers to record one of their works.
But those days of songwriters churning out one song after another in the hopes of crafting a melody that a signer spins into gold, have all but faded away. It became forgivable for a singer to be less than perfect if they wrote their own songs. We could allow a poor performance if we knew that the song came from the artist himself. We’d go so far as to praise the performance “inimitable”. But when that happened, some audiences found themselves unable to get past the quirkiness of some performers, and they lost out on the chance to find some great songs. Dylan was too nasal, Earl too controversial, Tweedy has a punk kid history.
Jazz will always color the world of Boise singer and saxophonist Curtis Stigers, but it’s just one of many influences on this eclectic, personal collection — his best yet.
Stigers’ 10th studio album feels like a new beginning. He wrote none of these songs, but you can imagine them on his iPod’s “most played” list. He uses them to boil down the essence of his musical DNA not just as a performer, but as a fan. With the helpful ear of producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux) and a fresh group of backing musicians, Stigers connects with pop, Americana, folk and soul in a deep, self-reflective way.
Mike Ragogna, Huffington Post
Mike Ragogna: Curtis, you have a new album, Let’s Go Out Tonight. But first, it seems you made a certain person named Nick Lowe quite a bit of money by performing his original song “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, And Understanding,” on The Bodyguard Soundtrack.
Curtis Stigers: Yeah, it was all by accident. I’d been a fan of Nick’s since I was a kid. I loved all of the records that he produced. I happened to do that song as the final song of my set every night, and that ended up being the track that I was lucky enough to put on The Bodyguard soundtrack. Then it went on to sell over 40 million copies thanks to Whitney Houston, God rest her soul. It was a big surprise for all of us. One day, I got a call from my hero, Nick Lowe, out of the blue thanking me for doing the song. He told me I’d never have to buy a meal in London again. (laughs) So, every now and then, Nick Lowe buys me dinner in London. The best thing that came out of all of that, besides Nick becoming rich, was that I’ve gotten to become friends with one of my heroes.
CriticalJazz.com – 5 Stars
Smooth jazz? No…Contemporary jazz? No, try again. Curtis Stigers Let’s Go Out Tonight is a critics worst nightmare as it sidesteps both his past impressive discography and the current plethora of sub-genres dotting the jazz landscape. Let’s Go Out Tonight is a fresh, inspired and rather eclectic look at some of what most would consider the more alternative takes on artists including Richard Thompson, Jeff Tweedy and even the great Bob Dylan. Opening with a soulful riff on the Bob Dylan classic “Things Have Changed” this Oscar winning song from Wonder Boys helps set the musical tone if not jump start an organic pulse that creeps through the release with well placed jazz sensibilities coupled with an alternative soul spin on tunes that seem to linger long after the last note.
Christopher Louden, Jazz Times
If voices, like wines, had noses, Curtis Stigers’ would be dusky oak with hints of Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson, Ray Charles and Matt Dennis. It’s a voice that’s at once young and old, tender and tough, warm and inviting as a caress, yet sturdy as a firm handshake. Here, as always, Stigers works in tandem with keyboardist, accordionist, vibraphonist, arranger and co-producer Larry Goldings, a partnership that remains as musically rewarding as that between Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood.
www.jazzreview.com – reviewed by Don Williamson
Review: Curtis Stigers has established himself as one of the important artists on the Concord Records label, as he continues to release new CD’s and tour and write his own music. The arrangement appears to suit both parties exceedingly well. For Concord has a reliable singer who, like the others that it has signed, staddles the fence between jazz and popular appeal. Maybe it’s just that the definition of jazz is changing–or expanding. In addition, Stigers is allowed to grow, singing the music he chooses uncategorically as it suits his personality, rather than being molded into the style of music that an A&R manager would expect to be commercially successful.
London Sunday Times
The former American pop idol should soon be winning over those countless listeners who have been converted to the joys of jazz by Diana Krall. Stigers – a protégé of the pianist Gene Harris back in his youth – puts an extraordinarily accomplished spin on material as unlikely as Merle Haggard’s Crazy Moon and the Beatles’ I Feel Fine.
“Curtis Stigers represents – as Diana Krall does – a carefully manicuredncherishing of a long-gone musical past. Yet, like Krall, Stigers is a musician of taste and intelligence whose instrumental skills have informed his singing. This disc is a mixture of old Broadway standards and newer pieces such as Randy Newman’s It’s So Hard Living Without You. It is inevitably a little cheesy at times, but the singer has a laconically conversational manner, like a blend of Nat King Cole and Mose Allison without the irony, and his bar-fly voice sounds charismatically a lot older than he is. A fine group, with pianist Larry Goldings and the sonorous bass playing of John Clayton (who delivers a sublime intro to My Foolish Heart) making this an urbane and skilful operation.”
“Secret Heart (Concord) will do the singer’s musical cred no harm with an agreeable trawl through the American songbook (Henry Mancini, Cole Porter). There’s cheese, yes, but charm too, and mingled in are well-chosen more modern songs from Ron Sexsmith and Steve Earle plus a fine take on Randy Newman’s poignant It’s So Hard Living Without You.”