By Britt Bickel

The WAVE’s Smooth Night Out featuring Boney James, Norman Brown & Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Spencer Day and Vincent Ingala is quickly approaching showtime on Feb. 23rd at Nokia Theatre, and to help get us excited for the big night, Mindi Abair herself joined us in studio!

Mindi sat down with Pat Prescott to tease listeners a little of what to expect during her set of the show and to talk about an exciting new project she’s working on with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot!

One of the things Mindi is looking forward to the most about playing at Nokia Theatre is that she’ll be in the company of family and friends.

“I very rarely get to play here at home. The shows are always different when you’re playing for your families and your friends so I’m just looking forward to it,” she said. “My band, they’re ready to go.”

We know Mindi as the fiery saxophonist who commands the stage with her unique blend of rock fused with jazz, but she tells us about the struggles she faced as an aspiring musician before she finally made it big.

From the moment Mindi’s solo career began, she noted that The WAVE has always played a part in helping her succeed. She recalls the moment she heard her song “Lucy’s” being played on air for the very first time on The WAVE.

“I was driving down the street, I will never forget it, and I heard it come on the radio,” she remembered.”I looked down and thought ‘did my CD just kick in?’ and no, sure enough it was on the radio.”

“You guys really built my career by playing my music, a lot of the other stations in the country took notice,” added Mindi.

So what can we expect from Mindi’s set during The WAVE’s Smooth Night Out? She sums up what her band and live performances are all about.

“If you’ve never seen my band before, I usually tell you we are the rockers of the jazz world,” she said. “We’re not your father’s jazz band, we don’t stand in the corner and play…me and my band put everything we have into every song.”

Her set includes covers from The Rolling Stones to classic jazz hits, but is primarily made up of the many songs she’s written herself. Mindi not only plays the sax, but she also takes the mic to sing on a few songs as well.

So far, the new year has been busy for Mindi, who tells us that she’s working on a new project with friend and fellow saxophonist Dave Koz.

“We’re going into the studio and we’re creating a record with four saxophonists,” explains Mindi. “It’s Dave Koz, it’s myself, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and can I just say that is so much talent in a room that it’s so overwhelming to be in there.”

She tells us the project is unique from most because though it features four saxophonists, each artist is so distinctive in style that it brings a whole new sound to the mix.

“It’s really fun to be a part of it, because no one is stepping on each others toes, everyone’s a fan of the other,” said Mindi. “I think that’s part of the fun of making a record with other people who have just such incredible identity.”

Years ago before Mindi became an in demand solo artist, she first met Pat back in New York City and told her about her dream that would wind up coming true.

“I told you that I was going to make my own records, that I was going to be a solo artist and that I’m working towards that, so one day look out for my record,” she recalled.

Mindi explains that visualizing your dreams and writing out your goals makes you one step closer to actually achieving them.

“I think visualization is incredibly important, saying what you want out of like is so important,” said Mindi.

The year of 2012 was a year of change for Mindi, both career wise and personally. Last year Mindi had the opportunity to perform numerous times on stage of American Idol, which later led to going on tour with former Idol judge Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.

Mindi also had the privilege of performing with the season winner, Phillip Phillips, and says they both still stay in contact, albeit through Twitter.

“Phillip is doing so well, I love the song he put out, and I think he’s going to have a huge career,” said Mindi.

Mindi’s connection with Idol goes far beyond the show, she says she still keeps in touch with many of the former Idols and has even played a show with contestant Casey Abrams in Chicago.

And who knows, maybe we’ll even be seeing her on the Idol stage once again this season!

Looking forward in 2013, Mindi already has a packed concert schedule, which also includes dates on the 2013 Smooth Jazz Cruise.

Having playing the Jazz Cruise in the past, Mindi tells us that there’s nothing quite like performing on a cruise with so many others who share the same taste in music.

“What I realized was that you’re on this boat with everyone who loves what you love,” said Mindi. “It’s really fun to get two-thousand who have a like mind and wanna hear some music and I wanna go play some music, and you got all these artists on the boat who are phenomenal.”

Tickets for The WAVE’s Smooth Night Out are still available! For more details and to purchase tickets to the show, click here.


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