Mindi Abair is back with a new album. The EastWest Sessions releases on September 15th, and it is her first full length studio album with The Boneshakers. You may recall that Mindi and The Boneshakers recorded a live album that was released in 2015. The overall style of this release is a departure from her previous studio albums. Her first six albums featured “traditional smooth jazz” grooves. They included tracks such as Do You Miss Me?, Smile, Salt and Lime, and Got To Get You Into My Life from the Summer Horns project, with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot.
The tone on her sax is unique. You can definitely tell when she is playing on a track.
On the album, In Hi-Fi Stereo, Abair started to explore her Blues/Funk side, and for the most part, the album worked well. She still incorporated elements from her previous albums, and you still knew that it was a Mindi Abair album.
With Wild Heart, Abair’s music started to evolve into a Rock/Blues sound. She jumped right in, and it seemed to indicate a complete change in direction for the talented artist.
The EastWest Sessions is the latest album, and it looks like she will continue in the Rock/Blues genre. At least for the time being.
Mindi Abair The EastWest Sessions Review
The album opens with the track Vinyl. It is a vocal track, and Mindi displays her fine vocal prowess. The track itself has a Southern rock feel, and the guitars and piano carry the track until Abair takes over with her horn, two-thirds into the song.
This is one that needs to be experienced live.
Not That Kind Of Girl is up next. This is a straight up rocking’ good time! Abair shows why she is one of the best in the business, as she plays in an aggressive style. I mean, she HAS to keep up with the stellar guitar lead in the track. If you are dragging in the morning and you need a little pick me up, just cue up this song.
Play To Win is the second vocal track in the set. Her nonchalant vocal performance totally makes the song here. There is a nice contrast between the verses, which are laid back, and the hook, where the tempo is turnt up. Of course, Abair calls her own number with a short sax solo.
Up next is Pretty Good For a Girl. This is definitely a blues track, as it features famed American blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa. The vocal starts out with, “Now I’m just a girl, all sugar and spice, but my daddy said, I don’t have to play nice.” You know this will be an empowerment song, as she is tired of hearing the phrase, that’s pretty good for a girl! This is an extra long jam, with seven minutes of goodness for your sonic pleasure. Abair and Bonamassa go back and forth with their solos, and you can tell that they are having a great time recording these parts.
The pace slows down a little with Let Me Hear It From You. Vocals are provided by Sweet Pea Atkinson. If you recognize his voice, you know him from the band Was (Not Was). There are great performances all around on this track, from the vocals, to Abair’s sax, to the tight background vocals toward the end of the song.
On Live My Life, Abair takes control of the song with that signature sound that we love. If you are not a big rock/blues fan, I assure you will like this effort. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when they had their jam sessions for this track!
Freedom is another all-out jam, and Abair once again shows why she is one of the best horn players in the game. The guitar and the sax play off of each other very well together on this track. It is more of a rock style versus Live My Life, but it is no less enjoyable.
We have another vocal track here with Had To Learn The Hard Way. Once again, Abair hits that spot with her vocal performance. But that sax solo though……
She Don’t Cry No More, features Fantastic Negrito. The pace really slows down on this track. For me, this is the one filler track on the project.
Up next is Done Me Wrong. This is a nice smoothed out song. Abair’s vocals are once again on point, and the guitar takes the track to the next level. For me, this is another highlight on the album.
The EastWest Sessions concludes with I Love To Play The Saxophone. It is a fun vocal track that kind of reminds me of Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Abair explains all of the reasons why she loves the saxophone, and the track is a perfect way to end the album. It is one of those songs that will make you happy every time you listen to it.
I like the fact that the Contemporary jazz artists are venturing out of their comfort zone. This allows us the opportunity to hear some music that is diverse. I mean, that is what music is all about, right? We want to experience different sounds and styles as the artists evolve.