Mindi Abair: The EastWest Sessions

by Bea Willis

Vocalist/saxophonist Mindi Abair is back with a new album that is titled, The EastWest Sessions on Pretty Good For A Girl Records.  This marks her first full length studio album with The Boneshakers. The album is a departure from her normal smooth jazz groove albums. Instead, Abair delves in deep to shake our bones with the sounds of the blues. The album features eleven blazing R’n’B-rock-blues-soul tracks, nine of which were written by Abair and the band.

“Vinyl,” the album opener, is a rock-blues feel with a little bit of modern country thrown in for good taste. Abair’s singing is just like her saxophone playing, focused, clear toned and full of passion. If Bonnie Raitt had a daughter that played saxophone, Abair would be it! The song has a strong hook and the chorus is very memorable. Abair’s solo is full of passionate screams and melodic figures that dance over the groove.

“I’m Not That Kind of Girl” is an instrumental that lets Abair’s saxophone take the lead. Set to a funky-rock-blues beat, the melody has a riff based verse with a soaring chorus. Abair’s saxophone sound is full and her upper register control and wails will send chills up your spine while the Boneshakers shake your money maker. The result, pure vibrational ecstasy!

The Boneshakers consist of: Randy Jacobs on guitar, Rodney Lee on keyboards, Derek Frank on bass and Third Richardson on drums. Together they lay down the funk, soul, blues and rock vibe with uncommon dynamism and energy. Abair’s playing still incorporates elements from the smooth jazz community, but with the joyous, upbeat blues-rock tinged, paired with old-fashioned soul and funk, all played with technical prowess and emotional power, you’ll love The EastWest Sessions.

“Pretty Good for a Girl” has all the before mentioned qualities in it to keep your ear bones vibrating with joy. Abair’s lyrics are witty and sung over a blues shuffle. Her saxophone playing is marvelous on this one, again her upper register screams deliver the goods. Definitely a blues track and it features famed American blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, when you hear Abair and Bonamassa trade choruses at the end of the track, it’s worth the price of admission alone!

The EastWest Sessions is a blazing new trail for Abair, in truth – one I honestly prefer.  It is good to hear Abair explore her blues/funk side, there are great performances all around throughout the album, from the vocals, to Abair’s saxophone playing, to the tight backing Boneshakers. There is not a disappointing song on the whole album.  I hope this trend continues.

Tracks to sample first: “Vinyl,” “I’m Not That Kind of Girl,” “Pretty Good for a Girl” and “Done Me Wrong.” The song to take a chance on is “Live My Life.”

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