Mindi Abair: It Just Happens That Way

Saxophonist Mindi Abair had established a reputation as an in-demand sidewoman, performing with the likes of Jonathan Butler, John Tesh and Teena Marie, before she came to widespread attention as a featured member of the Backstreet Boys’ touring band. Now Abair is making a name for herself as a leader with her captivating GRP debut, It Just Happens That Way.

Although clearly influenced by saxophonists David Sanborn and Dave Koz, Abair has a distinctive sound built on uncluttered arrangements and memorable melodies. Her performances are assured and her melodies directly stated-this is an artist who understands how to make a point without grandstanding.

Album highlights include the funky, sassy “Flirt,” the swinging, melodic “As Good As It Gets,” the catchy, anthemic “Lucy’s” and the wistful power ballad “Remember.” Abair reveals a pleasant but undistinguished singing voice on her cover of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s hit “Save Tonight”; while the song doesn’t really add anything to the album, it doesn’t detract from this solid effort, either.