Maintaining a strong Kent fanbase as one of his favourite UK haunts, Curtis Stigers has grown from saxophone playing soul man to an award winning jazz singer – and is set to take to the stage at the Assembly Hall Theatre.
Having experienced the frenetic pace of touring the world for more than two decades, Curtis Stigers is now enjoying events a little more on his own terms. While he admits turning 50 recently wasn’t something he shouted from the rooftops, he “can still rock ‘n’ roll” when the occasion calls for it, and he appears in a commendable rich vein of creativity.
With a career that now spans a dozen albums, the saxophonist and singer has drawn on a wide range of influences that bridge several musical genres. Though he concedes that finding the elusive balance between his day job and family life has posed its challenges, it seems that he’s pretty close to cracking it.
“I’ve been on the road a lot, but I’m home here in Idaho right now and I was joking this is my ‘semi-retired’ stage where I’m spending more time with my daughter who is 16 now,” mused Curtis on life in his native state’s capital, Boise, which was proved a welcome retreat from performing. As he revealed, it hasn’t all been sweetness and light on the road, which was laid bare on his 2012 album, Let’s Go Out Tonight, which he admits was written in a “very dark period” during getting divorced.
However, for his most recent album, he was touched by a fan’s message that commented “Hooray for Love” in reference to him finding a new romance in his life – which he couldn’t resist using for the record’s title. He certainly sounds in upbeat form as he speaks breezily about his latest tour including a single date in Kent, here in Tunbridge Wells. “I might have turned 50 but I don’t feel old, apart from a few more aches and pains now. I’ve been evolving slowly as an artist and I’ve always wanted to carry on learning and always be exploring. I think the jazz world can be quite snobby about people from pop or rock doing jazz standards – although people like Rod Stewart have had a lot of success with it.
“But jazz was something that I came to long before I was ever recording anything. I guess there will still be sceptics out there who will see me doing songs from my early career – they’re just done with a a jazz quartet these days,” adds the charismatic singer of his upcoming shows.
With plans for a new album later this year, Curtis has absolutely no regrets about increasingly turning his attentions to jazz music over the past decade. As he revealed, he was particularly shocked by the recent death of Prince, who proved a guiding influence for him in his early years. In terms of his own music, he says he’s very much looking forward to heading back to the UK – which has become almost like a second home.
He’s no stranger to Tunbridge Wells, and says he’s discovered a certain pub near town where he’ll doubtless be enjoying a pint or two during his stay. “I always enjoy coming back and I’ve played Tunbridge Wells four or five times now and it’s a good hall. I just love playing live – for me it’s not just work, it’s what I do with my leisure time as well. But it’s a hell of a way t o making a living.”
Curtis Stigers plays The Assembly Hall on Wednesday 20th July 2016