Saxophonist Mindi Abair has taken a temporary break from her usual "smooth jazz" regimen to explore the golden age of R&B on her new CD, In Hi-Fi Stereo. The album is funkier and more soulful than anything Mindi has ever recorded.
Remember spinning records on an old hi-fi stereo and watching the needle sway back and forth in the grooves of the vinyl? Or, reading the liner notes printed on the back of album jackets while drum beats vibrated through the speaker's wiry mesh covers. Those long ago but not forgotten moments were the inspiration for Mindi Abair's quest to capture the glory days of funk and soul.
Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mindi inherited her musical skills from her father, a saxophonist and keyboard player in a '70s R&B band. "Between watching my father onstage and spending time with my grandmother who was an opera singer, music was always around me," she says.
Mindi first learned to play piano at age five, but switched to alto sax a few years later. Mindi's success in her high school marching band led to more serious training at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she earned a degree in woodwind performance.
Mindi relocated to Southern California and became a fixture on tours with Duran Duran, The Backstreet Boys and Mandy Moore. Her move into jazz came in 2003 with her first major label solo release, "It Just Happens That Way."
For In Hi-Fi Stereo, Mindi admits that listening to the music of soul icons James Brown, Al Green, Junior Walker, and Archie Bell and The Drells gave her the idea to add funk and soul to her signature pop-jazz style. The outcome, she says, "is a fun, feel-good record inspired by some of those great sounds and grooves from that period."
Mindi composed all but two of the songs on the album, including a tune she describes as "a mix of old Motown and classic Ramsey Lewis", "All Star."