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PRESS RELEASE: MINDI ABAIR BRINGS HER WILD HEART TO A BRAND NEW ALBUM WITH A STAR-STUDDED CAST. Featuring appearances by Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Booker T. Jones, Keb' Mo', Trombone Shorty, Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and others
May 27, 2014 release produced by Abair and noted LA trio The Decoders (international release dates may vary)
Mindi Abair is one of the most dynamic performers on the music scene today. In addition to her acclaimed solo work, she was the featured saxophonist on the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol, jammed with Paul Shaffer on the Late Show with David Letterman and joined rock legends Aerosmith for their 2012 summer tour. More recently, Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Summer Horns, a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, four of the most pre-eminent saxophonists in contemporary music.
In a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations in the studio and live on stage, Abair has made her mark on a broad stretch of the musical landscape that includes jazz, pop, rock, R&B, soul, funk and more. The powerhouse saxophonist/vocalist has made scores of friends along the way and earned the respect of top-shelf artists representing every one of the aforementioned genres.
Several of those friends join her on Wild Heart, her new album that includes guest performances by - and songwriting collaborations with - Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Booker T. Jones, Keb' Mo', Trombone Shorty, Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and others. Produced by Abair and the illustrious Los Angeles production trio The Decoders (Adam Berg, Itai Shapira and Todd Simon), Wild Heart is set for release on May 27, 2014 on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group.
"I've had all these friends in rock 'n' roll and pop for so many years. I've been a part of their music and careers, but I never quite knew how they could fit into my career," Abair says. "I've worked hard to write songs that had more of an organic spirit about them - a little more rock and roll, a little more soul and a lot more abandon."
By enlisting colleagues in rock and pop circles in the making of Wild Heart, Abair has created something that stretches her beyond the contemporary instrumental groove that has characterized some of her earlier recordings.
Wild Heart is all that and more. The 11-song set opens with the upbeat "Amazing Game," a track co-written by Abair and GRAMMY®-winning songwriter Jim Peterik, the latter a pop/rock veteran who penned the Ides of March hit single "Vehicle" in 1970, and later Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" in 1982. "Amazing Game" also features swaggering horn lines courtesy of Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans native whose past alliances have included Lenny Kravitz and Aerosmith.
"Amazing Game" is the first of two songs on which Peterik and Abair share writing credits. The second is "Train," a thumping track that showcases Abair's powerful vocals alongside her solid saxophone work. "Jim and I have written so many songs together, and I've recorded with The Ides of March and on his records. It's an honor to put our songs on my record for the first time. We had such a blast writing them."
The scorching instrumental "Kick Ass" features rock icon Joe Perry, guitarist and co-founder of Aerosmith. "I wrote this song with my friend Matthew Hager, and while we were demoing it, I was fresh off the Aerosmith tour and picturing Joe Perry rocking the guitar part while walking down the runway towards 50,000 fans with the wind in his hair. I had to call him to see if he would play on it." Perry heard the song and joined Mindi in the studio the next week to record it. "What a high to play back and forth in the studio with one of my favorite guitarists of all time. When Matthew heard it, he just about fell off his chair!"
"I'll Be Your Home" is a swampy ballad that features Keb' Mo' in a vocal duet with Abair (Keb' also plays guitar and tambourine on the track). Abair says, "Keb' and I have been playing on each other's records for many years. We started playing together in LA clubs when maybe eight people would come to see us. We were nobody at the time. So it's been fun to watch his career take off in the years since and be a part of each other's lives and music. He's one of my favorite human beings and musicians, and he adds a lot of home to this song."
"The Shakedown," a throwback to the beginnings of rock 'n' roll when the saxophone was an integral part of the sound, features guitarist and co-writer Waddy Wachtel, along with drummer Max Weinberg, the anchor of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for nearly four decades. Abair established a connection with Weinberg shortly after the death of E Street saxophonist Clarence Clemons in 2011. A few tour dates with Weinberg - including a benefit concert that included an appearance by Springsteen - played a huge role in the genesis of Wild Heart. "Max means every note he plays," says Abair. "Playing Clarence Clemons' parts with him and Bruce made me delve deeper inside myself - just go for broke and let everything out. I wanted that abandon for my record."
The understated and slinky "Addicted to You" features keyboardist Booker T. Jones, leader of the highly influential Booker T. and the MGs, the de facto house band for the Stax label during their heyday in the '60s and early '70s. "Booker is such a hero of mine," says Abair. "Here's a guy who really invented a sound and changed the world. I wanted the chance to write with him - I just knew we could create magic. I knew we would write something meaningful, and this song absolutely haunts me." The set closes with "Just Say When," a heartfelt ballad that harkens back to keyboardist and co-author Gregg Allman's roots with the Allman Brothers. "It was actually Gregg's idea to write something together," says Abair. "I went to his house for three days to write with him, and we bonded so much and delved deep to come up with this song. I played with him last year and felt this electricity singing and playing with him. He's all heart and vibe. What a gift to have him write, play and sing on this record."
Wild Heart is, in many respects, Abair's culmination of many years of collaborating in the studio and/or onstage with some of the most prominent figures in contemporary popular music.
"People look at me a bit funny when they see the extreme diversity of artists I've toured or recorded with - Teena Marie, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Lee Ritenour, Keb' Mo' and The Backstreet Boys. I always went with my heart, and it's been quite an adventure musically. No title accurately described the music from this record to me, so I decided to title it after myself, a Wild Heart that's had a great time letting go and letting this record take shape organically with people I love. I hope people have as much fun listening as I've had making this music."
BIO: DIANNE REEVES
DIANNE REEVES is among the pre-eminent jazz vocalists in the world. In her first studio album in five years, Reeves delivers what is destined to become a soul-jazz classic. The album, Beautiful Life, also marks a new relationship with Concord Records -which is not entirely new: Reeves was featured in George Clooney's six-time Academy Award nominated "Good Night, and Good Luck," and performed every song on the Grammy-winning soundtrack which was released on Concord Jazz.
Beautiful Life is comprised of 12 songs that have touched Reeves' spirit in different ways and are rendered in such a way that will appeal to jazz and non-jazz fans alike. Mixing in her love of collaboration, the four-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist has now teamed up with a stunning array of peers including Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, George Duke, Gregory Porter, Gerald Clayton, Lalah Hathaway, Richard Bona and her producer Terri Lyne Carrington.
The album simmers and smolders throughout, starting off with a mesmerizing makeover of the Marvin Gaye classic, "I Want You." The choice for this song was influenced by the music Reeves grew up listening to at a time when categories and boundaries were not as finite as they are today. Reeves says, "I always loved Marvin Gaye. Not just because he was a great singer, but because his music was soul steeped in jazz."
In collaboration with Robert Glasper, Reeves breathes new life into Fleetwood Mac's Dreams, and delivers a beautiful rendition of the rock classic that is haunting and suspenseful. While Ani Difranco's self-empowering "32 Flavors" had been in Reeves' live repertoire for some time, this is the first time she has recorded it-and the result is a rousing anthem. "The song is about people doing amazing things that nobody sees," says Reeves. "It speaks to how we should be more conscious about those around us-those who populate and contribute to our lives."
Also included is a brilliant version of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler's standard, "Stormy Weather," a song that harkens back to Ethel Waters, Lena Horne and Billie Holiday-all of whom brought the song mainstream and put their stamp on it-and with an openness and floating sense of time, Reeves has now done the same.
Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" is another jewel in Beautiful Life onto which Reeves has made all her own. "When I brought this amazing song to my friend, Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, he worked his magic on the arrangement and I couldn't wait to sing it," Reeves enthused. The result is thoroughly entrancing.
The original composition, "Tango" is a wordless tour-de-force which celebrates the great non-English singers whose passion Reeves profoundly felt-without understanding the lyrics. "I perform this song throughout the world and wherever I go the spirit of my improvised vocals are completely understood. I have been so inspired and enthralled by so many singers whose lyrics I didn't comprehend like Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, Elis Regina, Angelique Kidjo, Cesaria Evora and the list goes on…."
"Feels So Good (Lifted)" is a particularly touching song as it features accompaniment by Reeves' cousin George Duke. "George was an amazing artist and man; he was all about finding solutions and keeping things moving forward which is the theme of this song," explained Reeves. "The two of us frequently spoke of not getting caught up in storms but weathering them and, if possible, dispersing them. I will forever profoundly love and miss George, who availed himself while he was ill to complete this song."
"Satiated (Been Waiting)," written by Beautiful Life producer Terri Lyne Carrington, is an original standout that screams to be released as a soul-jazz single. The amorous lament features the poignantly soulful vocals of Gregory Porter in duet with Reeves-and who can count Reeves as one of his great fans. Similarly, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding contributed "Wild Rose" which she wrote for Reeves-who can also count Reeves as a tremendous fan and admirer.
Geri Allen's "Unconditional Love (For You)" appeared on Carrington's Grammy-winning Mosaic Project-in which Reeves also participated-and Reeves fell in love with the song. "I loved the title as well as the music and was inspired to write lyrics about providing guidance and abiding love for all children growing up in a difficult world."
On "Cold," Dianne teamed up with regular band members, Tereon Gully and Peter Martin, to write a powerful, melancholy ballad about moving beyond anger and disappointment after a failed relationship. And the misty closer "Long Road Ahead," is dedicated to Reeves' mother who passed away last year and embraces the notion of sharing with others the things you've learned. "She was my mother, wholly-holy, a best friend and shining example of living a beautiful life."
A multiple Grammy-winner, Reeves has recorded and performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, who said of Reeves, "She has one of the most powerful, purposeful and accurate voices of this or any time." Reeves has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. In addition, she was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first singer to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Reeves worked with legendary producer Arif Mardin (Norah Jones, Aretha Franklin) on the Grammy winning A Little Moonlight, an intimate collection of standards. When Reeves' holiday collection Christmas Time is Here was released, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times raved, "Ms. Reeves, a jazz singer of frequently astonishing skill, takes the assignment seriously; this is one of the best jazz Christmas CD's I've heard."
More recently, Reeves has toured the world in a variety of contexts including a program entitled "Sing the Truth," a musical celebration of Nina Simone in which Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo were also featured.
In what has been a storied, extraordinary career, Beautiful Life features some of the most engaging songs Reeves' has ever offered. "Even in a world with much sadness," says Reeves, "at its essence, life is beautiful and I wanted to celebrate that which can be easily overlooked." Most certainly, among those things not to be overlooked is Beautiful Life.
Dianne Reeves - Beautiful Life
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