Jazz Monthly: Well, as always, I am ecstatic to invite back my next guest. She is such a mainstay and has a special welcome always at JazzMonthly.com. She’s an incredible saxophonist, one of my dearest friends in the business, and I’m always excited when she has new music and, oh, wait til you hear her new record. It is called Stars. It is an incredible mix of great tunes with some fantastic vocals. I don’t want to waste another minute. Please welcome the incredible and amazing Ms. Mindi Abair. Mindi, how are you, my friend?
Mindi Abair (MA): I’m great, Smitty. It’s great to talk to you again, great to be on your show. Thanks for having me.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, it’s always a pleasure. You know that. (Both laugh.) Hey, you have been one busy young lady. Wow! I mean, where do you start? I mean, now, from the last record to this one, you have just toured the world, you have done some incredible shows. I’ve been able to be there in person myself, so I can attest to these fantastic shows.
MA: You have been to a lot of them. I love that. I love looking out and going, hey, I know that face.
Jazz Monthly: (Laughs.)
MA: It’s always great to see your face and friendly faces in the audience you can look to.
Jazz Monthly: Thank you and it’s always great to hear that great saxophone and, oh, I just can’t hold back from saying how much I enjoyed the vocals on your great new record. Wow! Congratulations.
MA: Thank you, thank you. Yeah, we had a fun time putting this record together. I kind of went for broke.
Jazz Monthly: (Laughs.)
MA: Figured the record industry isn’t what it used to be, you know, I mean, obviously, if anyone’s reading the news, records aren’t selling and everyone’s scared and what’s gonna happen and radio stations are going under. It’s kind of “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” but I have to say as an artist I kinda look at it as a time to just go for broke, make the record you wanna make, and I think that people, if they like your music, they’re gonna buy it, they’re gonna come to your shows, and if you don’t make the music you’re wanna make, then why do it?
Jazz Monthly: Exactly.
MA: If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why do it? I really had it in my heart to write these songs and write all these vocals, and I just thought, I just gotta put it on the record, and I’ve always put a couple of vocals on each record, but this time it turned out to be a half and half kind of adventure, so I went for it.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and I was pleasantly surprised and, man, they are fantastic. Wow!
MA: Thank you.
Jazz Monthly: I love the instrumental—well, there are some vocals there too—but I love “Smile.” It’s a great song.
MA: “Smile” is so fun. I love that you love that. (Laughs.)
Jazz Monthly: Yep, I’m always running around “Da-da-da, da-da-da.” (Both laugh.)
MA: You know, so many of my songs over the years I’ve kinda used my vocals as an instrument and it kind of has become this thread of songs. I used it on “True Blue” and “Lucy’s” and “Make A Wish.”
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, it’s a great signature!
MA: And this one just kinda started out with me singing just a “Da-da-da-da, da-da-da,” and it just kinda went from there and I brought in some cool guitar.
Jazz Monthly: Very cool.
MA: And sax and it’s a really simple song but I just think it’s really fun to kinda sing along with it and I love that.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed, and speaking of guitar. Man, I love the guitar work on this record. Matthew slams on guitar!
MA: Thank you. Well, my co-writer and producer, Matthew (Hager), he plays a lot of the guitar. Kinda the more rockin’ stuff and a lot of the acoustic stuff is him, and then we also brought in a guy named Dwight Sills, who is just ridiculous and he plays kinda some of the funkier stuff and some of the guitar solos.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, incredible string work. I’m just lovin’ everything about this record.
MA: Aw, thank you. Yeah, I’m such a guitar freak. I just love pop music, I love rock music, and growing up on that, guitar is such a huge part of that. I know it’s a little different in the jazz genre, you know, mostly to use more guitar than keyboards, but I gotta say I just like the way it sounds and I love a good acoustic guitar, I love a good kinda rockin’ guitar, so a lot of my stuff is that.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and it’s fantastic. I mean, it’s a crossover of jazz and pop, and I think it blends very well the way you and Matthew work together. You guys have scored another gem. It’s incredible work, yeah.
MA: Thank you.
Jazz Monthly: And just to get away from the record for a second, you have just had some fun in the past few months. What I love about you is you don’t hide anything about the fun you’re having because we love your diary, I love the blogs on your MySpace page, and you’re always keeping everyone so informed about what you’re doing, where you’re gonna be, what’s happening, and I think that’s a very cool thing when an artist is very communicative with their fan base, and I think that’s just a beautiful thing, but you have just had so much fun and shared that with the world, and that’s a very cool thing.
MA: Yeah, I think that part of the beauty of the Internet and just being so connected with everyone that the world has become such a smaller place now with cell phones and Internet. I feel that it allows us as artists to be a part of you, the listener. It’s just all one big family now and you can really keep up with people differently than you could a few years ago. I can be on tour and upload a blog entry and say “Look, here’s the band in Istanbul” or “Check us out. I’m standing here with Earl Klugh in Atlanta,” and those were two of my last entries. I think it’s just fun to be able to share the cool things that happen on the road because lots of cool things do happen on the road, and it’s more than just you buy a CD and you go “Oh, I like that music.” Usually if I buy someone’s CD and I like their music, I wanna know a little bit more.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, that’s so true.
MA: And for me as an artist, I like sharing that stuff, so I think it’s fun and you can at least look on the diary page and know you’re gonna get some kind of weird story for that day. (Both laugh.)
Jazz Monthly: Oh yeah. And speaking of that, you have a great fan club and it seems to be growing every day. How’s that going? How do you like interacting with the fan club? That’s gotta be a beautiful experience.
MA: You know, it’s a really interesting thing to have a fan club. I had never had a fan club before a little over a year ago and I never quite knew what it would be, and I had people who would ask me “Oh, let me start a fan club for you” and I just always was hesitant, you know, “Well, I don’t know what that would be like. I’m not sure about that.” But finally a girl named Pam McGregor, she had come to every show in Florida for years and she’s just such a cool girl and she talked me into it, and she is the perfect fan club president, I have to say, and she has just built this incredible little world—we call it MindiWorld—and they’ve got their own Web site and they get stuff from all different fans across the world. People will bring in stuff and we’ll send them stuff as well so they get kinda the scoop before anyone else does on different things, and they have things that they can buy that other people can’t, exclusive stuff. My first record is called Always and Never the Same that I released independently years ago and is up on that site, you can only buy it if you’re a member of the fan club, you know, cool stuff like that. So she’s just really built this very cool little world and keeps everybody up on what’s happening. They do newsletters and I gotta say it’s really fun. People come backstage every night from the fan club, we do little meet and greets so I can say hi to everyone, and it’s really become a cool little community, so I gotta say it was the perfect thing to do and she was the right person to put it all together.