CURTIS STIGERS: Lost In Dreams (Label: Concord)

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Since signing with the Concord label in 2000 one time pop star Curtis Stigers (remember ’92’s ‘I Wonder Why’ and ‘You’re All That Matters To Me’?) has been allowed to return firmly to his jazz roots and ‘Lost In Dreams’ is his sixth album set in the genre and like the previous five this one is full of Stigers’ trademark incongruities. I mean few, if any, contemporary jazz artists would tackle Vera Lynn’s war-time morale-booster ‘We’ll Meet Again’ on the same album as John Lennon’s angst-ridden ‘Jelaous Guy’ and the great American standard, ‘My Funny Valentine’. Stigers does – and he does it well. On the last two, his vocal and arrangements manage to bring a new perspective into what are – after all – very familiar. He achieves the same result on ‘We’ll Meet Again’, prefacing it with a homage to Vera Lynn that might remind you of another great jazz singer – Georgie Fame. Then, the song itself is given a respectful lounge-jazz styling that brings out the clarity of the melody. In some ways the approach could be likened to the way Paul Anka tackled a batch of rock standards on his last two albums. But then again to make comparisons with anyone is unfair. Curtis Stigers is just himself. And, as ever, his jazz albums are full of surprises – witness the way the muted trumpet comes in on the delightful version of ‘The Dreams Of Yesterday’ and the huge world weariness on ‘In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning’. Stigers is on tour in the UK throughout September and October and whether he performs these songs in the same way only time will tell. He roundly admits, “from song to song, from gig to gig from album to album, it’s always a surprise – not just to the audiences and the critics and the record company and the publicist but to me too”…. With ‘Lost In Dreams’ prepare to be surprised.
(BB) 4/5