Jazz singer Stigers releases new album and plays 2 shows in Boise

Getting together with jazz singer Curtis Stigers is always a treat, even on Zoom.

The affable jazz crooner who calls Boise home is a pro when it comes to talking about his music, his delicious house”songs from my kitchenperformances he has done – and continues to do – from his North End home during the COVID-19 lockdown, and his growing herd of cute dogs.

But this time, he chronicled his musical journey from jazz to pop and back to jazz, including record deals, gigs, international fame and more.

It has been more than 30 years since Stigers, 56, recorded his debut album on Arista Records, a self-titled debut that rocketed him to No. 9 on Billboard’s Top 10 with “I Wonder Why” in 1991.

Charming, Stigers has an ease that makes the public crack. Now, it comes with a deeper appreciation for his three-decade career and the fans who made it possible.

And it’s all on his latest album – ‘This Life’ – an album filled with songs that are near and dear to Stigers, and the arrangements he has honed and polished through “millions of miles on the road, thousands and thousands of concerts”. he says.

It’s a kind of return to musical sources, he says.

“That’s how I sound now. I’m 56. I’m not the 24-year-old kid who made that first record. I’m a different guy, and these songs… mean something different to me. now,” he says. “They feel different. They sound different and speak to audiences in a different way. This is my favorite record cover I’ve done.

Stigers will celebrate the album with two performances by Boise. The first is a free show at 8 p.m. Sunday in conjunction with National Record Store Day, which is Saturday. The celebration is all weekend at Disc swapping1105 W. Idaho St., Boise, where Stigers will perform with “Shaky” guitarist Dave Manion and possibly a few special guests.

The other is a sold-out show May 23 at 8 p.m. in the Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater, 5657 Warm Springs Ave., Boise. Hillside tickets are still available for $14 at IdahoShakespeare.org and CurtisStigres.com.

The singer-songwriter, saxophonist and guitarist released “This Life” in February in the United States on his own label Pandemic Poodle Records. (It’s available on Universal outside the US) You can get it on vinyl and other formats on The Record Exchange and on CurtisStigres.com.

It also gets good reviews, he says with a hint of admiration in his voice.

“The London Times gave it an excellent review,” he says. “It’s funny, when I was successful and made a lot of money and played in big arenas, I got bad reviews. But now that I’ve survived enough long and earned little money, I am taken seriously. I’m so lucky to have been able to stick around. »

Stigers has called Boise home since returning in 2000. He supports the local music scene, champions other local musicians, such as Belinda Bowler and Eilen Jewel, and is probably the biggest booster for The Record Exchange, which he calls “the best record store in the world”. He performs regularly for his local fans and promotes Boise wherever he travels touring the UK, Germany, Holland and across the US.

This Life album cover by Curtis Stigers.jpg
Idaho-based jazz singer Curtis Stigers released his “This Life” in February 2022. It’s a collection of honed arrangements on the road to his greatest hits and crowd favorites. Till Bronner Provided by Pandemic Poodle Records

‘This life’ and then some

“This life” lasted seven years. Stigers first started thinking about some sort of retrospective on the 25th anniversary of that debut album, but by then he was immersed in other projects. And, he says, looking back has never been his thing.

I just kept going,” he says. But as the 30th approached, he changed his tone.

In October 2019, he booked his band and a recording studio, and revisited his 30-year-old songbook.

“When I started making jazz records in early 2001, I realized I couldn’t stop playing my hits,” he says. “People asked me, why don’t you record ‘I Wonder Why’ like you do now? I was always like, no, I’m doing new things. I don’t want to do this old stuff.

The album features these 1990s hits, including “I Never Saw A Miracle” and “You’re All That Matters to Me”, alongside its arrangement of Nick Lowe’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding”. , which was on the massive hit soundtrack of “The Bodyguard”.

The tracklist also includes her raunchy and moving rendition of Emmylou Harris’ “I Don’t Want to Talk About it Now,” and the title track “This Life,” the theme song to the hit TV series “Sons of Anarchy.” “, which Stigers co-wrote and sings in the credits. He was nominated for an Emmy Award, but he lost to John Williams.

When Paul Tillotson reflects on how Boise shaped his musical roots, he says succinctly, “The fact that (Harris) landed here changed all of our lives. The late Gene Harris gave Tillotson, left, and Curtis Stigers, right, the boost they needed in the 1980s. Provided by Janie Harris

Then he goes even further with a reggae arrangement of the Gershwin Brothers classic “Summertime,” which he’s been doing since he was a teenager playing with the Young Jazz Lions in Boise clubs. This one is a tribute to longtime friend, Boise jazz pianist Paul Tillotson, who passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer. “Swingin’ Down at 10th And Main” is a tribute to his musical mentor, the late and great Gene Harris, whose name still graces the annual Boise State Jazz Festival.

Stigers loves Boise and Idaho, and the city and the state love him back. He received the Boise Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, a Governor’s Award in the Arts and was repeatedly named “Best Musician/Band” by Idaho Statesman readers in the Best of Treasure Valley.

He said he recorded “This Life” in three days and then polished it in his home studio during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

This is a deeply personal record, curated by Stigers himself, from the track listings to the cover art – a photo of a deliciously bubbled Stigers taken in a Berlin nightclub by German jazz trumpeter Til Bronner , who is as well known for his photography as his acting.

“Til and I were at a jazz club in Berlin more than a few years ago. I was sitting there and he turned around and took the shot,” Stigers says. “You can say I had a hell of a night.” (The man next to him is “Detroit” Gary Wiggins, an American saxophonist who was living in Berlin at the time.)

Stigers has had many “hellish nights” in his career.

  • Opening for Eric Clapton and Sir Elton John at Wembley Stadium in 1992.
  • Several performances on “The Tonight Show”.
  • Headlining the Gene Harris Jazz Festival in his hometown in 2005.
  • Co-writing songs with Carole King.
  • Co-founder of Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza in Boise with his now wife, Jodi Peterson Stigers, in 2010. The annual fundraiser brings the Boise music community together for three nights to benefit the Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter.

Life has been great, Stigers says, and taking this moment to reflect is an interesting way to start looking to the future.

“TheThere are so many directions I could take from here,” he says. I will continue to make records with my band and tour as a band. But I’m willing to try different things. I’m ready for more than one acoustic record. I’m also dying to make another orchestral record if I can just find the money. I do a lot of shows with orchestras all over the world. It’s so much fun.

Throwback to the 1991 Stigers

This story was originally published April 22, 2022 10:31 a.m.

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Dana Oland writes on a wide variety of artistic and cultural topics in Treasure Valley. If you enjoy seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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