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Gearhead: Mindi Abair Stays Unattached

When pumping her high-wire solos to the crowd, this Grammy-nominated sax virtuoso cuts the cord

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Mindi Abair
Mindi Abair

Combine Cannonball Adderley with Clarence Clemons, pour in a large beaker of R&B, garnish with eye-grabbing stagecraft, and you have the essential ingredients of a performance by Mindi Abair. The Grammy-nominated saxophonist, singer, and songwriter—whose credits range from Aerosmith to American Idol to Dave Koz, Jeff Golub, Keb’ Mo’, and her own group, the Boneshakers—was on the road to promote her album No Good Deed (Pretty Good for a Girl) when we tracked her down to ask how she delivers her signature sound.

“Obviously, it starts with my saxes,” she says. “With the Boneshakers and some of the touring acts I play with, I have to be heard over a loud band. I find that Yamaha horns can cut through while still sounding full, big, and dynamic. Plus, they can stand up to the rigors of touring—something I couldn’t say about some of the vintage horns I played earlier in my career.”

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Emile Menasché

Musician, journalist, and author Emile Menasché has composed soundtracks for Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentaries. He is jealous that his dog Hudson gets more attention from passersby whenever they’re seen in public together.