Curtis Stigers, The Hub
Friday night was ladies’ night at the jazz festival – at least it was for many of the punters who had gone to hear former pop star Curtis Stigers and his band. Stigers has something akin to the Michael Buble effect on middle-aged women – thanks to the killer combination of Chet Baker cheekbones, a great line in torch songs and some borderline saucy patter.
With a craggy voice which sounds as if he’s borrowed it from an old, Afro-American bluesman (who forgot to put his teeth in), Stigers’s singing is something of an acquired taste. However, by the time he reached his third song, even the most cynical among us had acquired it – thanks to a spellbinding interpretation of the ballad You Don’t Know What Love Is.
Stigers is a consummate storyteller who brings lyrics to life and doesn’t get in the way of their meaning or the emotion within them. That stand-out ballad – along with his equally superb encore, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – were further enhanced by John Snider’s pared-down trumpet solos. Like the Stigers bone structure, these were pure Chet Baker.