Curtis Stigers

Hooray for Love

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A one-time adult contemporary star -- his 1991 eponymous debut was produced by Glen Ballard and, not long afterward, he made Nick Lowe a millionaire thanks to his cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" on The Bodyguard soundtrack -- Curtis Stigers long ago established himself as a skilled jazz singer and his 2014 set, Hooray for Love, is perhaps his most traditional record yet. Light on originals -- the title track and "Give Your Heart to Me" are the only tunes that bear his credits -- and also skimpy on the kinds of unexpected covers that distinguished his new millennial records (only Steve Earle's "Valentine's Day" fits that bill), Hooray for Love is anchored on the songs that everybody knows and loves: "You Make Me Feel So Young," performed here as a duet with Cyrille Aimee, "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Matter of Time," and "If I Were a Bell." As recognizable as these songs are, Stigers doesn't seem stifled by their reputation. The intimate setting -- featuring no more than pianist Matthew Fries, guitarist Matt Munisteri, bassist Cliff Schmitt, drummer Keith Hall, and trumpeter John "Scrapper" Sneider, who also produces -- allows Stigers to be limber and he's also happy to fade into the background and let his band just play. This looseness is what keeps Hooray for Love so engaging: Stigers isn't simply enjoying singing, he's enjoying playing with his band.

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