VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
01 MAY 12 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Singer/saxophonist Curtis Stigers releases his seventh album on the Concord Jazz label this spring. Let's Go Out Tonight departs from his recent jazz projects to focus on songwriters ranging from classic Bob Dylan to indie composers Neil Finn of Crowded House and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Darker than his previous American Songbook material, the result is raw, brooding and highly personal.
Although there are no Stigers compositions on this project, his song choices show a deep understanding of mood and synergy that is an art akin to songwriting itself. Stigers sets the tone for the album by opening with Dylan's great "Things Have Changed," which won an Oscar as the theme song for the film Wonder Boys. Singing of a "worried man with a worried mind" who "used to care but things have changed," there's a regret and biting self-awareness that becomes the overriding sentiment of the album. These aren't the love songs of bright-eyed naiveté, but rather a rueful look back at choices made and paths not taken.
Stigers arrangements hit the right note for the material. From the low-key vocals to the soulful horns, he creates a dreamy soundscape that moves the listener into a reverie of love, loss and reassessment of their own life choices. Although it sounds like a downer, the outcome is strangely uplifting. As he sings in the Jeff Tweedy-penned Mavis Staples classic, "You Are Not Alone" -- "Open up, this is a raid/I want to get it through to you/you're not alone." Comforting words as we make our way through our own dark nights of the soul.