WBGO Radar

Curtis Stigers: Hooray For Love

Cover of Curtis Stiger's Hooray For Love

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, describes love this way: "It's like riding full speed in a snowmobile, when suddenly it flips, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come."

There are no weasels in view on Curt Stigers’ new CD, "Hooray For Love," which is a clear-sighted homage to the human heart.

In fact, it's very clear. "Our Love Is Here To Stay" opens this album, Stigers' eighth for the Concord label, in a relaxed fashion, showing this will be a celebration of this universal human condition.

Stigers' vocal and tenor saxophone talents are joined by pianist Mathew Fries, bassist Cliff Schmitt, drummer Keith Hall, John "Scrapper" Sneider on trumpet and vibes and guitarist Matt Munisteri. 

Special guest vocalist Cyrille Aimée stops in for a duet turn on "You Make Me Feel So Young."

On the disc, Curtis shows us he's comfortable in old and new clothes. 

"I like songs with stories told from a point of view of someone who is flawed; I think it's important to be always adding to the Great American Songbook," says Stigers, of why he chose to include Steve Earle's "Valentine's Day" on the album. Some plaintive Sneider trumpet nicely seasons this one.

The title track, "Hooray For Love" is a swinger, with Munisteri's rock steady guitar and the ensemble providing a nice path on this original, co-written by Sneider, who plays real nice with others.

Can't say hooray for love without the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields classic "Just The Way You Look Tonight." Stigers takes a laid-back look here, giving all the space needed to make the statement worthwhile - they know when we're just selling wolf tickets.

Another original, "Give  Your Heart To Me", has a nice back and forth between voice and piano, with Stigers showing his sax feel as well.  HOORAY doesn't always have to be all in caps.

"That's All" has an easy mood here, a more genuine feeling at this pace.

"A Matter Of Time" was written by pianist Fries  and Curtis. It's no time before you're caught up in this ensemble swinger.

Frank Loesser's "If I Were A Bell" has the gates swinging, the bells ringing and Stigers right at home, with some nice interplay between Fries' piano and trumpeter Sneider's  bell.

After "Hooray For Love," you might think you know what love is, but lest we forget those weasels, Stigers offers us "You Don't Know What Love Is" for his closer, as a gentle and cautionary reminder that Groening might be right.

Curtis Stigers has always had the form and feel to approach any song he desired. "Hooray For Love" is his new testament to that. It comes out April 29th.

   - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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