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Stars

Mindi Abair

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Album Review

On one of 2008's most popular and dynamic urban contemporary jazz releases, the popular saxophonist made certain to live up to the lofty title of her previous outing, Life Less Ordinary. Aiming for those Stars, she expanded on the vocalizing she did on her earlier outings and wrote a batch of infectious songs that showcased her attractive vocals like never before. Five tracks — nearly half the disc — are adult contemporary pop songs that fit comfortably on the charts alongside John Mayer, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Sara Bareilles. It may have seemed risky to push the envelope after scoring a number one album, but her instrumental hits always showed that she was a popster at heart. Helping Abair and her guitarist/producer Matthew Hager realize her creative "outside the box" approach is a choice group of stalwarts from the pop world: keyboardist Ricky Peterson, drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., and Richard Dodd, cello player for the Foo Fighters. With the media so immersed in reflecting the ongoing despair and difficulties of life around the globe in the 2000s, Abair's ultimate goal with her five vocal tracks is to bring light to the darkness, an unapologetic, optimistic sense of hope and idealism. Case in point: the lilting folk-pop tune "Change," written with frequent collaborator Tyrone Stevens, says that change is the one thing we can count on, and also the concept that can bring us all together. On the power pop title track ballad, she looks to the "Stars" as a connective thread between lovers who are far apart in physical distance. The Elton John/Lionel Richie-influenced "On and On" reflects wistfully on the innocence of her small-town youth (in St. Petersburg, FL) and the way music has become an integral spiritual part of so many people's lives. Her heartfelt, keyboard-driven anthem "I Wonder" is her generation's twist on the concept of "Imagine," while "Here for You" is an uplifting, autobiographical old-school soul-blues ballad that chronicles her incredible years-long friendship with Hager. These are smartly balanced by instrumentals that range from light and jangling ("Smile") to edgy, bluesy, and funky ("F.L.A. Swing").

Biography

Born: 31 May 1969 in St. Petersburg, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Born on tour into a musical family, Mindi Abair was playing piano by the age of five. Within three years, she was playing saxophone and writing songs. She made her way through Berklee performing all kinds of music from jazz to rock and R&B. Upon moving back to Los Angeles, Abair started her own band. She also took on session work with artists as diverse as the Gap Band, Adam Sandler, Mandy Moore, John Tesh, Teena Marie, and the Backstreet Boys. During this time, she worked on creating her own...
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Stars, Mindi Abair
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