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Jazz - Released April 10, 2020 | UMI Jazz Germany

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 20, 2017 | Concord Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Jazz

Having previously covered the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Dan Zanes, and Annie Lennox, Curtis Stigers has never been one to rely solely on the Great American Songbook classics, but Let's Go Out Tonight, his tenth studio album, and seventh since his effortless jazz-man reinvention, arguably features the most eclectic selection of material in his career. Not that it's entirely apparent on first listen. Its ten tracks may take in everything from wistful alt-country (Hayes Carll's "Chances Are"), vintage Stax soul (Eddie Floyd's "Oh, How It Rained"), and even atmospheric dream pop (the Blue Nile's title track), but their similar organic production and achingly slow tempos mean it takes some time for their charms to sink in. A country-tinged rendition of Dinah Washington's "This Bitter Earth" provides the highlight, Stigers eschewing his bluesy growl for an impassioned soulful delivery which recalls his early-'90s commercial heyday, while the bittersweet jazz-blues of "Everyone Loves Lovers" (the only original composition), the gentle waltz of Richard Thompson's heart-breaking "Waltzing's for Dreamers," and the suitably mournful take on Steve Earle's harrowing "Goodbye" prove that this is by far his most melancholic offering to date. A few less sedate numbers wouldn't have gone amiss, with only the organic folk shuffle of Bob Dylan's Oscar-winning "Things Have Changed" managing to crawl beyond a snail's pace. But while there are moments of monotony, Let's Go Out Tonight is still a well-crafted, if undeniably slow-burning affair, which impressively shies away from the usual familiar standards. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Concord Jazz

A one-time adult contemporary star -- his 1991 eponymous debut was produced by Glen Ballard and, not long afterward, he made Nick Lowe a millionaire thanks to his cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" on The Bodyguard soundtrack -- Curtis Stigers long ago established himself as a skilled jazz singer and his 2014 set, Hooray for Love, is perhaps his most traditional record yet. Light on originals -- the title track and "Give Your Heart to Me" are the only tunes that bear his credits -- and also skimpy on the kinds of unexpected covers that distinguished his new millennial records (only Steve Earle's "Valentine's Day" fits that bill), Hooray for Love is anchored on the songs that everybody knows and loves: "You Make Me Feel So Young," performed here as a duet with Cyrille Aimee, "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Matter of Time," and "If I Were a Bell." As recognizable as these songs are, Stigers doesn't seem stifled by their reputation. The intimate setting -- featuring no more than pianist Matthew Fries, guitarist Matt Munisteri, bassist Cliff Schmitt, drummer Keith Hall, and trumpeter John "Scrapper" Sneider, who also produces -- allows Stigers to be limber and he's also happy to fade into the background and let his band just play. This looseness is what keeps Hooray for Love so engaging: Stigers isn't simply enjoying singing, he's enjoying playing with his band. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 10, 2020 | UMI Jazz Germany

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Pop/Rock - Released September 22, 1991 | Arista

3 Stars - Good - "..his singing: gutsy, full of conviction, convincingly blending jazz inflections into rock-based songs... his command of the genre is impressive.." © TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Concord Records

Still best-known for his brace of early-'90s AOR hits, Idaho singer-saxophonist Curtis Stigers has spent the 2000s showcasing the jazz credentials he developed during jam sessions with his hometown's star pianist, Gene Harris. His eighth studio album, Real Emotional, may feature three self-penned compositions, the most since signing to the Concord label in 2001, but its continuing over-reliance on cover versions suggests that he's still not entirely confident with his shift in direction. It's a shame that he lacks the courage of his convictions, as "I Need You," a melancholic, piano-led, cocktail bar ballad which highlights Stigers' vocal reinvention from blue-eyed soul pin-up to mature, smoky-voiced troubadour; "I Only Want to Be with You," a shuffling Norah Jones-esque country-blues number co-written with younger brother Jake, and "A Woman Just Like You," a toe-tapping slice of seductive salsa, are all worthy of sitting alongside the more familiar material. However, Real Emotional still manages to avoid the lazy tribute approach favored by his mainstream contemporaries; although there are renditions of tracks by performers whom Stigers has previously tackled, such as Tom Waits ("San Diego Serenade"), Randy Newman (the title track), and Mose Allison ("Your Mind Is on Vacation"), the selection of classics from The Great American Songbook are not as predictable as you'd expect. Alongside his Hammond organ-led take of Emmylou Harris' "I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now," there's a Sinatra-style interpretation of Stephen Merritt's "As You Turn to Go," and a swinging blues adaptation of Dan Zanes' "Night Owl," while Stigers also puts his own spin on the more recognizable standards, turning Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" into a sophisticated double bass-heavy Rat Pack number, and substituting the acoustic guitar for twinkling piano keys on Paul Simon's "American Tune," while still retaining the emotion of the original. Real Emotional, therefore, cleverly avoids the trap of falling into pleasant background music, but it could have been more engaging if Stigers just had a little more faith in his own songwriting abilities. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Concord Records, Inc.

Curtis Stigers knows what makes a great song -- whether he's borrowing from the Great American Songbook, the world of rock, or writing it himself. So it's not too surprising to find a Pink Floyd tune ("Vera") on the same record as Rodgers & Hart ("My Funny Valentine"), or Ron Sexsmith ("Reason for Love") sharing space with John Lennon ("Jealous Guy"). But what matters most is not only Stigers' good pair of ears but his gift for customizing these songs so incisively that they sound utterly at home with one another, and with the quartet of tunes Stigers co-wrote himself for Lost in Dreams, his tenth release. Stigers' voice has a lived-in quality that exudes trust and knowing: his album-closing take on the standard "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" is a quiet, nearly naked affair to which Stigers brings the kind of authority and nuance usually found in a much more seasoned stylist such as Tony Bennett. Buddy & Julie Miller's "Dirty Water" is a finger-snapping classic blues. "Bye Bye Blackbird" becomes a buoyant, frolicking vamp, but Stigers avoids the giddiness that so often finds its way to the song. "Vera," paired with its inspiration, "We'll Meet Again," slides easily from lonely piano-bar meditation to snappy and upbeat while the opener, Annie Lennox's "Cold," is a muscular stone soul picnic, allowing Stigers to take off on fanciful flights while holding onto the grit the song never knew it needed. On the Lennon number, an apologist's plea, Stigers finds the perfect balance between a jazzman's knack for swinging -- his tenor saxophone solo kicks it into high gear toward the end -- and a popmeister's need for accessibility. And as for those originals, they never feel out of their element. The first of them, "You've Got the Fever," co-authored with Tom Jensen, dances a sly, quasi-tango rhythm; the bluesy, Ray Charles-like "Daddy's Coming Home," co-written with album co-producer (with Stigers), John Sneider, leaves no doubt that Daddy can't wait to arrive. "Feels Right," one of two collaborations with former producer Larry Goldings, lives up to its title, and the other, "The Dreams of Yesterday," is reflective and appropriately dreamy. Stigers never needs to overdo it -- he's a sophisticated natural who simply finds the heart of his material and then does it justice. It's a lesson others would do well to learn. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Concord Records

Those who think of singer/saxman Curtis Stigers as a pop/rock artist and associate him with "I Wonder Why" and "Peace, Love and Understanding" will be surprised to learn that Baby Plays Around is very much a jazz album -- not jazzy pop, but straight-ahead acoustic jazz. Not that there is any reason why someone with pop/rock credentials can't embrace jazz if his heart is really in it; after all, jazz and rock are both part of the blues family. And even though some pretentious individuals in the jazz world love to state that jazz is "America's classical music," the fact is that jazz has more in common with rock and R&B than with Beethoven or Mozart. Stigers thrived on that blues feeling as a pop/rock singer in the early '90s, and he thrives on it as a jazz singer. While Stigers was often compared to Van Morrison and John Hiatt in the early '90s, Baby Plays Around finds him drawing on influences that range from Jon Hendricks and Mark Murphy to Chet Baker. In fact, one of the songs he embraces is "Let's Get Lost," which Baker defined in the 1950s. Much of the time, Stigers is in crooner mode, providing dusky, relaxed interpretations of "All the Things You Are," "You Are Too Beautiful," and "Everything Happens to Me," as well as Randy Newman's "Marie." Stigers doesn't inundate his listeners with technique, although his lightning-fast version of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" underscores his ability to handle the demands of vocalese and hard bop. The singer (who plays sax on Harry "Sweets" Edison's "Centerpiece" and Parker's "Parker's Mood") doesn't stay away from overdone standards, but to his credit, he also picks some tunes that haven't been done to death. "Marie," for example, is a great song that many of the more myopic jazz singers wouldn't consider recording. Baby Plays Around falls short of remarkable, but it's a pleasant, likable effort that has more pluses than minuses -- and is a reminder that people who are known for pop/rock needn't stay away from straight-ahead jazz if they really know their stuff. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Concord Records

Since signing to Concord and releasing Baby Plays Around, an album of jazz standards, in 2001, Curtis Stigers has really found his footing, and with I Think It's Going to Rain Today, he continues to recast pop and rock ballads in easy, elegant jazz settings, an approach that allows his expressive, slightly raspy voice to work its wonders. It is an encouraging synthesis, and much like Cassandra Wilson, Stigers has an unerring eye for pop material that gains depth and emotional range when transferred to the jazz arena. Here he hits right out of the box with a wonderful restructuring of Willie Dixon's "My Babe," resurrects Mose Allison's Vietnam-era "Everybody Cryin' Mercy," and delivers an urbane reading of an early Tom Waits' song, "In Between Love" that reveals the impossible romantic that lurks under Waits' hipster growl. Stigers has also developed into an impressive writer, as well, and the two originals here, "Lullaby on the Hudson" and "Columbus Avenue," are both well configured, literate vignettes that more than hold their own along side such gems as Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," a classic ballad of conflicted emotions edging gracefully into ennui. This is an album of jazz-pop in the best sense, meaning it isn't pop done jazzy, but pop actually done as jazz, which is an entirely different horse, even if some radio programmers will fail to grasp it. The only misstep here is the bonus track that closes the album, a less than striking version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (featuring Stigers' ridiculous attempt at a scat vocal) that originally appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Game Six. Baseball songs aside, I Think It's Going to Rain Today is a fine and nuanced album, and Stigers is on to something here. He's an artist worth following closely, particularly if his writing continues to develop. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Concord Records

Some people mistake being jazzy for actually singing jazz. Van Morrison, Anita Baker, Sade, and Sting are all jazzy, but they aren't hardcore jazz singers (which isn't to say that they are not capable of singing straight-ahead jazz -- Baker, in fact, has done it on occasion). In the early '90s, Curtis Stigers embraced jazzy pop/rock. But when his first Concord Jazz release, Baby Plays Around, came out in 2001, it was clear that he was capable of being more than just jazzy -- Baby Plays Around was definitely an album of straight-ahead acoustic jazz. And the singer continues in that direction on Secret Heart, his second Concord release. Naturally, some elitist bop snobs will view this album with suspicion -- their attitude is "once a pop singer, always a pop singer." But such thinking is silly. Stigers once again proves that he is quite capable of singing straight-ahead jazz and he demonstrates that having a pop/rock background doesn't mean that you have to stick to pop/rock all your life. As a jazz singer, Stigers isn't mind-blowing. But he's enjoyably swinging on familiar standards like "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home" and "My Foolish Heart." These songs definitely fall into the warhorse category -- they've been beaten to death over the years. But to his credit, Stigers doesn't limit himself to warhorses. He pleasantly surprises listeners by picking Dave Frishberg's "Sweet Kentucky Ham" and he successfully finds the jazz potential in Steve Earle's "Hometown Blues" and Randy Newman's "It's So Hard Living Without You." Secret Heart won't go down in history as the best vocal jazz album of 2002, but it's a respectable effort that makes one glad to see Stigers traveling in a jazz-oriented direction. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 6, 2017 | Concord Jazz

Just in case the title One More for the Road didn't suggest Sinatra, Curtis Stigers underscores his debt to the Chairman of the Board by patterning the artwork for this 2017 collaboration with the Danish Radio Big Band after 1966's Sinatra at The Sands. In fact, One More for the Road is something of a salute to that 1966 record, containing eight songs from that double album and adhering to the snazzy swing of late-period Frank. Stigers even channels that sensibility into "Summer Wind," a gentle breeze of a single, and that's one of the distinguishing factors of One More for the Road. Another distinguishing factor is the cheerful blare of the Dutch Radio Big Band, who are big and brassy without overwhelming the singer. For his part, Stigers doesn't mimic Sinatra, appropriating just a bit of swagger -- and, sometimes, the arrangements -- but plays with his phrasing and alternates between crisp enunciation and elongated notes. This is enough to make One More for the Road something a bit different than a straight-up tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes because it shows how Stigers can hold his presence on-stage while sharing the spotlight with his idol. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Ambient - Released May 4, 1999 | Columbia

Curtis Stigers began the '90s quite promisingly, as his eponymous debut generated a Top Ten single with "I Wonder Why" and he seemed on the brink of stardom as a classier, substantial alternative to Michael Bolton's ersatz adult contemporary soul man. Then, something happened. His second album didn't make much of an impact and he was caught up in contractual hassles, meaning that he didn't deliver his third album (and first for Columbia), Brighter Days, until the summer of 1999 -- nearly eight years after his first hit. Brighter Days finds Stigers considerably more mature, shooting for the adult alternative market and succeeding, more or less. It helps that he's working with a great list of collaborators, ranging from songwriters Jules Shear and Carole King to supporting musicians Jackson Browne, Benmont Tench and Chuck Leavell. Each track has been carefully constructed and produced, which presents an interesting quandary -- as individual songs, they're all quite good, but taken together, they tend to sound a little too similar. Nevertheless, Stigers has delivered a record that fulfills the promise of his debut. It's a gentle, streamlined blend of Van Morrison's blue-eyed soul (there's even a tribute song, "Van Said (Sha La La)") and such radio-ready Americana bands as the Wallflowers and Hootie & the Blowfish, yet it has a stronger songwriterly bent, which gives it its own identity -- and that's enough to make Brighter Days an enjoyable comeback. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2014 | Concord Jazz

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Jazz - Released March 27, 2020 | UMI Jazz Germany

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Pop/Rock - Released June 26, 1995 | Arista

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Jazz - Released March 27, 2020 | UMI Jazz Germany