Smooth with a solid funk backbeat
Reviewed September 2010
In Hi-Fi Stereo
By Mindi Abair
Heads Up: 2010
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Jazz sax player Mindi Abair plays the kind of music that is heard on the car's FM "cool jazz" radio stations: mid-tempo and smooth. She and her band keep the flow steady, while Abair's restrained but interesting soloing is usually the only thing going on in the instrumentals. The music on her latest, "In High-Fi Stereo," fits the pattern of her previous work, the songs falling into three categories funky ensemble tunes, super-smooth radio fodder with a pop vibe, and a few vocals that break things up.
These are all very easy on the ears. The best of the instrumentals are "All Star," "Down for the Count" and "Girls Night Out." The last two in particular are built upon good funk bass/drum structures that give the sax work more of a launching point. "Let the Whole World Know (Sing Your Song)" is a fluffy pop exercise with a female vocal chorus answering Abair's sax phrases.
A surprise is the cover of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," sung by the late Donnie Hathaway's daughter Lalah. Clearly designed as the featured track here, it doesn't disappoint as Hathaway does a good job, and a sharp arrangement and the best sax work on the disc by Abair combine to make a memorable soul moment and a statement that this song needs to be covered by more female singers.
"In High-Fi Stereo" will be very welcome to any who enjoyed Mindi Abair's previous six albums, and for any new listeners who want to hear an artist who plays smooth, relaxed jazz with just a bit of funk and soul on the side.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.