Mindi At Her Best

Bruce Von Stiers

Saxophone player Mindi Abair has had a storied career in the music business. Mindi recorded and toured with jazz keyboardist Bobby Lyle. She played saxophone for The Backstreet Boys. Mindi also toured with Aerosmith and even stepped in for Clarence Clemens, playing with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. She appeared on American Idol several time, musically backing contestants, including Haley Reinhart. Mindi also hosted a syndicated radio show for several years.

In between playing for others, television appearances and hosting the radio show, Mindi has toured as a solo act and recorded several albums. I had the opportunity to review a few of them. I have been a fan since the first time I heard one of Mindi's songs.

Mindi's latest effort is a compilation of songs from previous albums. The title of the album is The Best of Mindi Abair.

From her first album, Always And Never The Same, through 2019's release, No Good Deeds, there is a good cross-section of Mindi's music in this compilation. There are nineteen songs on the album and it has a play time of seventy-nine minutes.

The first song on the album is a radio edit of Lucy. It was from the 2003 album, It Just Happens That Way. It has a guitar and drum intro then Mindi kicks in with a cool pop jazz sax sound. It is definitely a toe-tapping slick jazz piece. Mindi also does some harmonizing in the song.

From 2007's album, Less Than Ordinary, comes Bloom. This is the radio edit version of the song. It is a great pop flavored saxophone jazz song.

Flirt is another song from It Just Happened That Way. It is a super cool jazz funk piece. There is a real cool guitar riff near the end of the song.

The various albums that Mindi has recorded have included some special performers making guest appearances. One such appearance was by Keb Mo for the song I'll Be Your Home. The song was on the Wild Heart album. Mindi did the lead vocals, with Keb Mo sharing the chorus. Along with playing the saxophone, Mindi does quite a few vocals on her albums. In fact, her first album was almost all vocals. ‘

There is a very interesting cover song on the album. It is the John Lennon classic, Imagine. I've heard instrumental versions of the song before. But this one has an organ and saxophone mix. For the most part the sound stays the same tempo as Lennon's original song, but there are some cool changes that make it more of a jazz tune. The song has not been previously released, so it is unique to this album.

Come As You Are is the title track from Mindi's 2005 release. It one of the albums of Mindi's that I have reviewed. Even though there were a lot of good songs on that album, this one is still my favorite from it. It is a head bopping, cool sax piece with some nice guitar and drum background music.

From 2010's In Hi-Fi Stereo album comes Be Beautiful. It is a funk and blues piece with come nice vocals.

Another song from Mindi's first album is True Love. It is a mild and gentle love ballad. It showcases Mindi's vocals.

True Blue is also from Mindi's first album. It has a nice beat and some really great saxophone. It is one of my new favorites of Mindi's songs.

Then there is Wild Heart, from the album of the same name. It is a really tough piece with an almost rock tone to it.

Being there for someone every day is the theme of the vocal track, Seven Day Fool. It is a smile effecting, fast paced song from the album No Good Deeds that Mindi did with The Boneshakers.

Too cool organ begins Make It Happen. It is a really bad-ass rocking jazz piece that has not been previously released. And to make things even better, Mindi recruited Booker T. Jones to play on the song with her.

Another song from Wild Heart is Haute Sauce. It is a fast paced song that made me envision someone running through a train station or possibly a slick car chase.

Good Day For The Blues is from No Good Deed. It is a rollicking jazz blues piece with some decent vocals.

One of the best songs from Mindi's The EastWest Sessions album is Pretty Good For A Girl. This was another album that Mindi did with The Boneshakers. It has good vocals and some superb saxophone in it along with excellent guitar. The guitar was provided by Joe Bonamassa, one of my all-time favorite guitarists. The story in the song is pretty much autobiographical. Mindi got into playing the sax as a little girl, not knowing that girls just weren't supposed to doing things like that. In the song, Mindi sings about her accomplishments and playing ability. And that she even got a nomination. Well, actually, Mindi has been nominated for a Grammy twice. But, then in the midst of the great things she was doing, someone would always say “that's pretty good for a girl.”

Just Say When is a heartfelt vocal piece from Wild Heart. Greg Allman shares the vocals with Mindi on this Southern Rock ballad.

Another song of Mindi's that I have really enjoyed is Smile. It is from her 2008 album, Stars, which I got to review. It is a moderately paced song with great saxophone and nice harmonies.

Being in love with what you do makes for a good song. That is what makes I Love To Play The Saxophone seem so realistic. And fun. It is an almost bluegrass sounding vocal tune that was on The EastWest Sessions album.

The album closes with April. It is from Mindi's upcoming album, Forever. As it started I thought it might be a slow and slightly moody piece. But things into a lighter, more upbeat sound.

Along with the album, Mindi has included a sixteen page booklet. This booklet tells about her musical path, from learning to play the saxophone to performing and recording. There are also song and album credits in the booklet along with a few pictures of Mindi at different points in her career.

There are a lot of great saxophonists out there, many of them in the jazz world. Some sax players perform and record in more than one style. And some blend their music so that several styles are incorporated into it. Mindi Abair is one of the sax players that blend their music. Her music could be thought of, as the president of Verve Records told her, “a part of the new generation of jazz.” This generational shift in jazz music has proved a great vehicle for Mindi and allowed her to share her music with a whole new range of jazz fans.

Although I knew, and really liked, some of the songs on this compilation, I greatly enjoyed the ones I didn't know. In fact, Flirt, which I hadn't heard before, if probably my favorite song on the album. This was a very cool album to bring out for existing fans of Mindi and a great way for listeners who aren't familiar with her music to get to know it.

The Best of MIndi Abair will be released on April 2 nd . You can pre-order the album now through amazon and other music outlets.

Check out Mindi's official web site to find out more about the album and Mindi herself. The site is https://www.mindiabair.com/

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© 2021 Bruce E Von Stiers