CLEARWATER - Not every stop on a musician's tour is a memorable one, but saxophonist Mindi Abair's 2006 Clearwater Jazz Holiday appearance at Coachman Park tomorrow night is an exception.
Abair is a graduate of Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg; it's there that she began her musical education. "I started playing the sax at age 8, and came up through the school band program," she said. It was with Northside's jazz band that she made her first Coachman Park appearance. "Every time I go back to Coachman Park I have memories of playing there as a high school student," Abair said.
Abair's next performance at Coachman Park was at the 2003 WSJT Smooth Jazz Fest; it was also memorable, but for different reasons. "The first time I came back with my own band, it was so exciting to me. I was fired-up to play, all my family and friends were there," she recalled.
But Mother Nature intervened; two songs into her set, a violent thunderstorm hit the park. "My stage manager said 'do I have to turn this off, or are you going to stop'," Abair said. She did stop playing, but she didn't leave the park; "I sat there in the rain signing autographs," she said.
Abair has since appeared at Coachman Park under far better weather conditions, most recently in April during WSJT's Smooth Jazz Fest. But Friday night will mark her first performance at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, an opportunity she has been looking forward to. "I'm honored to be a part of Jazz Holiday," she said, "all the musicians I looked up to played there."
Abair's Jazz Holiday performance will feature a mix of songs from all three of her CD's, including the most recent, Life Less Ordinary. "I like to play songs that people know from the radio, not just from the latest CD," she said.
Abair was recently asked to name her favorite place to perform. Her answer was "home"; although she now lives in Hollywood, California, it's here that she considers home. You can welcome Mindi home tomorrow night at 7:45 pm at Coachman Park. More memories will be made; make sure that yours are among them.
Thursday, October 19th
5:00pm Gates Open
6.00pm - 7:30pm Kenny Drew Jr. Quartet
8.00pm - 10pm Kenny G
Friday, October 20th
4:30pm Gates Open
6:00pm - 7:15pm Bossacucanova
7:45pm - 9:00pm Mindi Abair
9:30pm - 10:45pm Richard Elliot
10:45pm - 11:00pm Jam Session with Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot
Saturday, October 21st
1:00pm Gates Open
2:00pm - 3:15pm Valerie Gillespie
3:45pm - 5:00pm Jose Valentino Ruiz
5:30pm - 6:45pm Jazz to the Maxx
7:15pm - 8:45pm John Pizzarelli
9:15pm - 10:45pm Manhattan Transfer
Sunday, October 22nd
12:30pm Gates Open
1:00pm - 2:15pm REH/CJH Jazz Youth Band
2:45pm - 4:00pm Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge
4:30pm - 5:45pm Don Byron Ivey-Divey Trio with Edward Simon & Billy Hart
6:15pm - 7:45pm Buckwheat Zydeco
8:15pm - 9:45pm Cherry Poppin' Daddies
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