Gig review: Curtis Stigers, Edinburgh

American singing star Curtis Stigers. Picture: Jane Barlow
American singing star Curtis Stigers. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Curtis Stigers had been warned to stay off politics, but he couldn’t resist scatting a reference to BoJo.

Curtis Stigers | Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Rating **

If he had been prepared to apply that impish irreverence to other aspects of his performance, then this Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival appearance might not have been so staid.

Despite his flurry of success as an MOR soul balladeer in the early 1990s, this US singer/saxophonist has made his longterm career about his roots and training in jazz and blues. But even here he occupies a comfortable middle ground with his own material and choice of covers.

His vocals were effortless, his quartet more than capable and his taste in songwriters unimpeachable, but his skills as an interpreter were lacking any element of surprise or transformation, as he stuck to safe cocktail lounge or mainstream swing territory throughout most of the set with polite supper club renditions of Billy Joel and Nick Lowe songs and his own biggest hits You’re All That Matters To Me and I Wonder Why remodelled in jazzier robes.

His voice was better suited to the louche blues of Bob Dylan’s Things Have Changed but there was no sense of putting a stamp of his own on proceedings and too often he defaulted to a pale imitation of Sinatra and chums.

Hooray For Love, his own throwaway song for swinging lovers, could not compete with solid gold standards You Don’t Know What Love Is and In The Wee Small Hours.