Mindi Abair performing at Jazz Alley in Seattle, Washington on January 10, 2011
|Birth name||Mindi Abair|
|Born||May 23, 1969|
|Genres||Smooth jazz, contemporary jazz, pop, soul|
|Occupations||Saxophonist, vocalist, keyboardist, flutist, composer, radio host, band leader|
|Instruments||Vocals, saxophone, keyboard, flute|
|Labels||Heads Up, Concord Music Group, Verve|
|Selmer Mark VI Saxophone|
Mindi Abair (born May 23, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida) is an American smooth jazz saxophonist with a strong Top-40 pop music background. Mindi has toured and/or recorded with the Backstreet Boys, Duran Duran, Mandy Moore, Josh Groban, Adam Sandler, Keb' Mo', Lalah Hathaway, Lee Ritenour, Teena Marie, John Tesh, Bobby Lyle, Jonathan Butler, Peter White and Rick Braun. She is currently touring with Aerosmith. In 2003, Abair moved from pop to jazz. She signed to Verve Records and released the album It Just Happens That Way, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and remained in the Top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks. Billboard magazine named It Just Happens That Way one of the top 10 Contemporary Jazz CDs of the year. Her hit single “Lucy’s,” was No. 1 on R&R for a record-breaking eight weeks. Her 2004 release Come As You Are peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts. Her 2006 release Life Less Ordinary peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and remained in the top 20 for 45 weeks. Her songs "True Blue" and "Bloom" hit No. 1 on R&R. She signed to Concord Records in 2007, and her latest 2008 release Stars broke the usual genre barriers, with her single “Stars” (written and produced by Matthew Hager) charting No. 29 Adult Contemporary R&R simultaneously with her single “Smile” hitting top ten on the R&R jazz airplay charts. Abair also plays the flute and keyboard and sings, and she has hosted the nationally syndicated radio program Chill with Mindi Abair since 2007, which focuses on chill out music.
Mindi Abair was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and spent much of her early life on the road with her father’s band, The Entertainers. She came from musical roots. Her father, Lance Abair, played saxophone and keyboards, and her grandmother Virginia Rice was an opera singer, piano and vocal instructor. She started playing the piano at age five, and started playing alto saxophone at the age of 8 when her elementary school band instructor laid out instruments on the first day of band class and instructed each student to pick the instrument they most wanted to play. She acted as drum major of her high school marching band her junior and senior years of high school. And as a senior in high school, she auditioned and won the 1st chair alto saxophone for the Florida All-State Jazz Band. Mindi spent her first year of college on a full scholarship at the University of North Florida, a jazz program started by Rich Matteson (North Texas State University). She then transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended on scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Woodwind Performance. During her years at Berklee, Mindi studied with Joe Viola and George Garzone on saxophone. She formed her first band in college. Since April 23, 2005, she has been married to guitarist Jason Steele.
After graduation from Berklee College of Music in 1991, Mindi moved to Los Angeles, where she began booking her band into clubs, coffee shops and hotels. She played solo on the street at 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and garnered the attention of jazz keyboardist Bobby Lyle, who hired her to record on his “Power of Touch” CD and tour with him. Her touring possibilities expanded over the next decade, as she toured as a saxophonist/singer and keyboardist with Adam Sandler, John Tesh, Jonathan Butler, Teena Marie, Rick Braun, and Bobby Lyle. In 1999 she independently released a pop album, Always and Never the Same. She was featured on saxophone in the Go West video “Tell Me”. And in 1996, on Adam Sandler’s HBO Special, and recorded on his platinum CD “What’s Your Name?” playing the saxophone solo on “The Lonesome Kicker” and singing on various tracks. In 2010, Abair released a CD called "In Hi-Fi Stereo," produced by Rex Rideout.
In 1999, Mindi joined the Backstreet Boys for their Millennium World Tour, and spent the next year and a half as their saxophonist, keyboardist and percussionist. She put together Mandy Moore’s first band, and acted as musical director, keyboardist, background singer and percussionist for many of her first television appearances and shows. On her off time from touring, Mindi released her first complete solo record “Always and Never the Same” independently. She also filled in as the saxophonist with the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman on April 3 & 4, 2012.
Mindi has been featured on the 2011 American Idol season as a soloist with Paul McDonald and Casey Abrams and playing behind contestants Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart. Steven Tyler remarked to Paul McDonald after her debut on the show “Forget you, who’s your sax player?” Tyler was so impressed with Abair that he invited her to join Aerosmith on the summer leg of their 2012 world tour playing sax and singing backing vocals. Video exists of Abair duetting with Joey Kramer during his drum solo. Mindi has also been featured several times on the 2012 American Idol season with Phillip Phillips.
- Always and Never the Same (1999)
- It Just Happens That Way (2003)
- I Can't Wait for Christmas (2004)
- Come As You Are (2005)
- Life Less Ordinary (2007)
- A Peter White Christmas with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun (2007)
- Stars (2008)
- In Hi-Fi Stereo (2010)
- Gottlieb, Jed (2012-07-13). "Steven Tyler taps sax player Mindi Abair for Aerosmith role". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "It Just Happens That Way". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- "Come as you Are". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- "Life Less Ordinary". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 2009.
- "Chill with Mindi Abair".
- Mindi Abair To Be Married In April
- Baldwin "Smitty" Smith (May 2008). "Jazz Monthly Feature Interview: Mindi Abair". JazzMonthly.com. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
- Brian Soergel (June 2010). "In Hi Fi Stereo - Mindi Abair". JazzTimes.
- Who Was That Mystery Sax Player On 'Idol' Last Night?
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mindi Abair|
- Official website
- Chill With Mindi Abair website
- Smooth Jazz Notes Interview and Photos of Mindi Abair