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Coming full circle

Molly Shea

One might wonder why acclaimed jazz musician Curtis Stigers, who plays the Vilar Center Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and is a regular at major venues in New York, Los Angles, and London, would pay a visit to the Vail Valley.But Stigers, a former ski instructor from Bogus Basin near Boise, Idaho, provides ample rational for this tour stop: “I finally have worked out my schedule so that I can sing at night and ski steep and deep during the day.”And like any good father would, Stigers is bringing his three-year-old daughter, Ruby, to get her first taste of skiing.Matching his love for skiing with his passion for music, Stigers will round out his Thursday night by entertaining jazz enthusiasts in Beaver Creek in a benefit for the Vail Jazz Foundation.Three-fourths of the performance will be songs from his latest album, Secret Heart, and the last quarter will be some of the pop hits from earlier in his career.On his new album, Stigers combines songs from writers such as Ron Sexsmith and Steve Earle and transforms their music into his own jazz renditions. In addition to covers, Stigers included a couple of originals like “How Could a Man Take Such a Fall.”When asked what kind of an atmosphere he hopes to create, Stigers replies, “First of all, it is a casual atmosphere. I’m just a guy, and I tell stupid jokes to relax the audience. But I take a classy, old-school approach to music where people come to the show to sit and listen and they want to hear every word.”Over the course of his career, Stigers’ idea of successful, good music has changed. He moved to New York City when he was 21, looking for new challenges that Idaho could not provide his burgeoning talent.”I was too stupid to know that I could get knocked down. There were a lot more people and there was a lot more going on; New York was the anti-Idaho.”Stigers’ career took off with his first album receiving several top-10 ratings all over the world. “It was an amazing start to my career, and I was making a lot more than I was teaching kids how to make a pizza wedge.”As Stigers’ career matured, his idea of success has changed along with it. “I want to be able to play music that moves me. If that means I don’t play at Shea Stadium and on the Tonight Show, so be it.” Since the days of his pop music record deal in the early ’90s, Stigers has moved away from pop to an acoustic jazz sound.This move to acoustic is nothing new to Stigers. He was introduced to playing music at 8 or 9 years old when he learned to play the horn. “I grew up doing everything. Music was not so formatted. I listened to rock and roll with my friends and I got into jazz because I was a horn player and I wanted to hear how it could be used.”Like many musicians, Stigers has explored a range of genres and sounds, and for the moment his explorations have led him back to his beginnings. “I’ve come full circle back to my roots as a jazz player.”Stigers has just finished a new album that is set to come out in late spring or early summer. The title has not been finalized, but for more information on his new album or his touring schedule, log on to his Web site, curtisstigers.com.Tickets for the show are $40. For more information, call the Vilar Center Box Office at (970) 845-TIXS.


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