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Mindi Abair: A Contemporary Jazzer Cuts Loose

The "Heart" of rock 'n' roll

Saxophonist Mindi Abair made her fourth consecutive appearance at the Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival
Mindi Abair

“If given the chance to bring Charlie Parker back from the dead and play with him or to play with Bruce Springsteen,” says Mindi Abair, “I’m probably the 1 percent of sax players who would say Bruce. But that’s what makes the world go ’round.”

That statement might have longtime fans of the 45-year-old saxophonist and vocalist scratching their heads, but only until they hear Wild Heart (Heads Up), Abair’s new album. Although she’s been a superstar for years in the contemporary/smooth-jazz world, playing the cruises and festivals associated with that genre and releasing highly regarded if sometimes subdued albums, Wild Heart marks an abrupt turn in Abair’s approach. By any standards, it’s first and foremost a rock ‘n’ roll record, touching upon R&B, pop and, yes, jazz, but unmistakably rock above all.

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