The jazz singer and saxophonist who will blow away fans with his...

The jazz singer and saxophonist who will blow away fans with his blend of blues, scat and soul

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Curtis Stigers

Curtis Stigers, the talented American musician who first found mainstream fame in the 1990’s with his hits I Wonder Why and You’re All That Matters To Me, is coming to the Assembly Hall on Wednesday July 20. He tells Eileen Leahy why performing a variety of musical genres has helped him sustain a successful career

How long have you been performing?
I’ve been playing saxophone and singing to audiences for the past 35 years.

What do you enjoy most about it?
I love performing for people. My job is to tell stories that just happen to be set to music. Communicating with an audience with a song is the thing I do best and what I love most about my job.

Where is the most unusual venue you have done a gig?
I’ve played a lot of different kinds of places; from Disneyland and a tiny basement in a former bank, to a German country and western bar and Wembley Stadium.

How often do you tour and is it always worldwide?
I’m on the road about a third of the year. I’m from Idaho but most of my concerts are in the UK and Europe – that’s where I seem to have created the most loyal following. It’s great because it’s like being on holiday and getting paid to sing occasionally.

Where is your favourite place to perform?
I always have such a lovely time travelling around the UK, seeing the towns and villages and sampling the ales. Ronnie Scott’s in London has become a home away from home for my band and me. I have a lot of friends in London, and the chance to live there for a week or two and sing every night is a joy. Ronnie’s is a classic jazz club, you don’t find that kind of place just anywhere.

What other musical genres are you into?
I love great songs – no matter where they come from. I listen to a lot of singer/songwriters and alternative country but I also like a lot of old school soul, R&B and blues.

Curtis Stigers 2

Is your standard concert mainly jazz or do you include other varieties of music?
I always play my hits but the arrangements are updated and better suited for the acoustic trio or quartet that I play with. It’s mainly a jazz combo but you’re also likely to hear an Elvis Costello number or a Gershwin tune, or something by The Beatles, Thelonious Monk or Dizzy Gillespie.

Do you play any other instruments apart from the sax?
I play the guitar and the drums as well as the saxophone, but my first instrument is definitely my voice.

Is there anything you’d like to learn?
I’ve been struggling to teach myself piano for years. I’m also a huge fan of comedians. I actually admire them more than any other artists.

If you could perform with an artist or band – living or dead – who would it be?
Those still alive would have to include Annie Lennox, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Diana Krall and Jason Isbell. The people I’d love to perform with if they were still around would be Ray Charles, Levon Helm and David Bowie.

Have you been to the Assembly Hall before?
Yes, my band and I have played there several times before and we always have a lovely audience there.

Did you discover much of Tunbridge Wells?
I’ve never had much of a chance to wander around. I hope to do so this time – I love a nice pub lunch!

How would you sum up your musical style?
Eclectic, open-minded, entertaining and soulful.

What’s next for Curtis Stigers?
I’m very much looking forward to voting for Hillary Clinton and against the hideous Donald Trump.

Curtis Stigers plays the Assembly Hall on Wednesday July 20 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost from £32 and are available from www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk