Chasing Music: Mindi Abair

And you say, “Why-

Does it have to be tonight?

Can’t we make a long goodbye?”

There’s a reason I’m starting this particular writeup off with song lyrics, and that is because they are quite appropriate to this particular writeup. Unless my luck turns yet again, and I score a pair of tickets to either Jonathan Butler sailing or the Angela Bofill cruise, then tonight, I have disembarked my last sailing of the Spirit Cruises concert series.

And what better way to wrap this up than with the lovely Mindi Abair.

If you are a child of the nineties, then I’m pretty sure that this name rings a bell, but if you are a jazz fan, then you definitely know what to expect when she struts onto the stage: a lot of laughs, a lot of spunk, and an alto sax that’s as full of spirit and attitude as its proud owner. Mindi and the silver-plated horn both have enough spunk and style to win over the harshest of critics.

With a fresh record out, one inspired by vintage recordings – and appropriately titled In Hi-Fi Stereo – Mindi wasted no time in opening with Down for the Count off that CD – a rousing blast of pop-infused melody, which brought the audience to a good bit of chair-dancing.

You know, there’s one thing that I absolutely love about Mindi A’s shows. She has an utter blast with every audience that she gets; she had the Celebrity Theater on the Century eating out of her hand in the first 10 minutes of the set, and she had the Spirit Cruise audience’s full attention with just the first song. The gloomy outdoor skies had nothing to do with the fact that every eyes was on her; she is utterly dynamic in person. And sometimes, I don’t know what on earth she’s doing in LA, that stylin’ of hers would be perfect in NYC. But that’s just my bias, thinks I.

Now, what’s a Mindi show without Smile? Much like Peter White playing Bright and eliciting a reminiscence because the song was intended as such, Smile has the same effect as its name. Mindi’s voice sets the pace for a light, bubbly piece that neither loses its punch, nor goes off track as the alto sax takes over. It carries the same nigh-unexplainable urge to smile and dance as Michael Lington’s Show Me.

“You know, some songs are just so cool you have to play them. Now are there any Rolling Stones fans?”

That’s when I had to grin. Mindi doesn’t usually do covers, but when she asks this of her audience, I know that Miss You isn’t too far behind and yes, right there – that familiar melody taken to the horn and the trippy line across the bass strings – there we go. A great take on a classic song.

Now, remember what I mentioned about being a child of the nineties? I certainly am a 90s kid, and before I discovered CD101.9 – and even after – one of the first songs that has ever stood out to me was a ballad of sorts. I shouldn’t really call it a ballad, I’ll be honest, it has better pacing than a ballad, and its lyrics are not your typical love song. To me, though, it’s a nice one, and you don’t really hear it, well, anywhere anymore.

I refer to Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry, and, although I like the original, this is the way I like to hear it.

And also, what is a Mindi show without some stadium jazz? While I have no lighter, and the Flashlight app on my iPod is a poor substitution, the only thing remaining to do when Bloom starts up is to simply enjoy it – on the dance floor, mid-crowd. I’m not quite sure if Mindi noticed it – though she certainly noticed the Statue of Liberty out the window before – but the storm clouds outside loosened to let through just enough sunlight to color the sky in a light purple, with fiery tones where the cover was a bit more loose.

It wasn’t until I went downstairs to mingle with the post-show crowd that I realized: this is the last one of the season for me. Jonathan Butler is next week to wrap up the season officially, and Phil Perry will join Maysa in the Angela Bofill sailing encore, but for this music-chaser, the season has wrapped up.

And what an excellent season it was! Down to the Bone was a perfect reminder of how I fell in love with this music to begin with. Spyro Gyra was a great “happy anniversary” for me coming aboard the Spirit Cruises. And, of course, Guitars and Saxes – a reunion with my guitars, and a chance to see my favorite sax players live for the first time. Memories, connections, friendships… Everything I could ask for, I got this past two months in stereo. Hi-Fi Stereo, if I have to be more precise (couldn’t resist :P )

There are off-season shows, of course, which I will do my best to attend and write about. Nonetheless, there’s nothing quite being aboard the Spirit. Something about being right there, a combination of great music that you just don’t hear much outside HD or Satellite radio and the sight that is NYC at sunset or at night – something about just being on that boat at that season makes me feel like I could leave my concerns on land for a while, and simply, for the lack of better words, come home.

…well, if I’m going to get sentimental… :)

Let’s wish away the morning light,

Keep this distance out of sight…

…’Cause the stars are out tonight.

-Mindi Abair, Stars

And so wraps up the Spirit Cruises season. Next year, same time, same place – I will be there.

Special thanks are to Sam and Bill of Marquee Concerts, to Ken Levinson for making great things happen, and to everyone that I met and reunited with aboard these cruise concerts. I could not have asked for a more amazing season.

Until next time my pen is put to paper, and until the next time the music strikes up…



One thought on “Chasing Music: Mindi Abair

  1. sounds like you had a great time!. wish i could’ve been on at least 1 cruise this summer. i’ll have to wait and see if the Rippingtons play on the cruise again next summer, i’ll make sure to be on that one. hopefully things will be better financially for me and Kristen by next year, so we can do the things we want to do. i’m looking ahead to my book being published sometime next year

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