Photo Flash: Curtis Stigers' Opening Night at Live at The RRazz
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Stigers will perform selections from his latest album Let's Go Out Tonight from Concord Records - produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Tracy Chapman) - featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Wilco, Neill Finn and more. He broke on the scene in the mid-90's with Top 10 hits "I Wonder Why," "You're All That Matters To Me" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which was on the 45x platinum-selling soundtrack to "The Bodyguard."
In recent years Stigers has emerged as one of the leading male vocalists in the jazz world. His 2003 release "You Inspire Me" was the London Times "Jazz Album of the Year." In 2007 Stigers was named Jazz Artists of the Year by BBC Radio 2. In May 2010, he was named International Male Jazz Singer at Germany's Jazz Echo Awards. He co-wrote and sings the Emmy Award nominated theme songs from the hit FX-TV show "Sons of Anarchy."
These days former pop idol Curtis Stigers does what he loves best, which is performing as a jazz vocalist. Alongside standards he sings lesser known jewels from pop, soul, folk and Americana. His pleasant, slightly gritty nightclub voice stands out in this setting.
Never have Stigers' genre-blurring instincts been more sharply defined than on Let's Go Out Tonight. Stigers describes it as, "probably the most autobiographical album I've ever made. It hits so many places I've been and things I've gone through and am currently going through." Ironically, given its deeply personal nature, Let's Go Out Tonight is the first album since 2003's You Inspire Me that includes no original Stigers tunes. While shaping the playlist with producer Larry Klein, Stigers says he "played him a few songs I'd written, but I hadn't been writing that much. It's been a tumultuous year, and I haven't been able to focus on songwriting. He didn't think the ones I played for him fit in with what we were going for, and I had to agree with him." Instead, Stigers and Klein each drew up long lists of song possibilities. "They're songs I've had in my back pocket for years and have always wanted to record. So, in a way, it feels like I wrote the album anyway." Let's Go Out Tonight is also the first of Stigers' Concord albums to completely sidestep the Great American Songbook. Instead, he surveys a vibrant cross-section of pop, folk, country and soul songwriters, ranging from Bob Dylan, Eddie Floyd and Richard Thompson to Jeff Tweedy, Hayes Carll and David Poe, whose "Everyone Loves Lovers" was crafted expressly for Stigers.
Though jazz has been integral to Curtis Stigers' musical vocabulary throughout his career, his transformation from rock/pop headliner (of the sort that filled stadiums and made Leno and Letterman appearances) to jazz vocalist is barely a decade old, dating from the release of his debut Concord album Baby Plays Around in 2001. Stigers is often placed at the forefront of post-millennial jazz singers, but isn't a pure jazz artist in the tradition of, say, Mark Murphy or Mel Tormé. Nor does he want to be. Critical to his unique vocal style and his inimitable interpretative skills is his ability to draw upon his checkered professional past and his wide-ranging musical tastes to synthesize myriad influences, coloring tracks with various shades of pop, country, folk, blues, and classic R&B.
Live At The Rrazz takes place at the historic Cadillac Building, 1000 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, Calif.Photo Credit: Pat Johnson Photography