In my quest to quickly learn how to play the saxophone, I sought out great players to listen to, model, and study.
It didn’t take long to discover sexy sax superstar Mindi Abair.
Her latest album, Wild Heart, is already topping the Billboard charts. She’s been on American Idol for two seasons. She toured with Aerosmith. She’s been on Letterman. She played with Bruce Springsteen. She’s breaking through to even wider mainstream public awareness. Her blend of rock and jazz is just the right combo to excite and inspire me.
I had a sax lesson with her via Skype that helped me with numerous sax playing issues. That was a turning point in my playing. As a result, I’ve already played sax on several albums, from Invoking Divinity and Afflatus, to a forthcoming album with twice Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster and my music producer Daniel Barrett.
And then I hired Mindi to perform a private acoustic concert for friends.
That’s where I became even more enthralled and inspired.
Mindi is open, generous, loving and lovable.
She spent time with each of my friends. She showed me her sax (Yamaha Custom Z alto) and answered more of my questions about playing.
And her playing stunned me.
She’s smooth, hot, sultry, jazzy, rocking, screaming, soothing, and more.
When I grow up, I want to play like her.
She put thought into which songs to play for me and my friends.
She considered my interest in positive thinking and played her song “I Can’t Lose” (off the Wild Heart album).
She heard that one of my guests loved the song “Summertime” and played her powerful version of it.
And she told stories.
Each song was introduced with a charming behind the scenes story.
It made the show intimate and unique and unforgettable.
Her guitar player was just as warm and talented.
Randy Jacobs played for Ringo and Willie and a long list of greats. He was as humble and friendly as Mindi. (And he was very impressed that drummer Joe Vitale, the “other” Joe Vitale who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recorded several albums with me.)
Check out Mindi Abair at http://www.mindiabair.com/
Check out Randy Jacobs at http://www.randyjacobs.com/
And here’s Mindi showing you how it’s done…
PS – Mindi Abair was kind about my sax playing, too. She called me (in a Tweet) a “killer saxophonist”! Thank you, Mindi! 🙂
You can achieve great things when someone believes in you.
I know this first hand.
Daniel Barret, my music producer, coauthor of The Remembering Process, and friend, urged me to create an album of all saxophone music before I felt ready to do so.
I even argued with him about it.
“You have a two year old son,” I began. “Getting me to record sax music right now is like my offering to train your son for the Olympics. He’s not ready. I’m not ready.”
But Daniel persisted.
“You have a supernatural connection to the sax,” he said. “Every time I hear you play, I feel the power of it.”
Keep in mind that I had heard a baritone saxophone for the first time last January, when Thomas van der Brook came into the studio to add his bari sax to a track on my Reflection album.
I loved it.
I decided right then to buy a sax and learn how to play.
I did, too.
But that was only months ago.
I had a couple lessons to learn how to put the sax together, watched some YouTube videos on how to play the sax, bought 17 books on the sax, and a DVD course, and just kept trying.
Every week or so, I’d record my playing and send it to Daniel.
I was simply sharing.
But he used it as evidence.
He felt I was ready to record.
After a few months – and with Daniel’s polite but persistent encouragement – I took the jump.
I realized I had been arguing for my limitations.
Enough of that.
I agreed to create an album of all sax music.
That was a HUGE, BOLD, and SCARY move.
I didn’t feel confident.
I didn’t feel ready.
Yet I knew that one of the best ways to learn something is to simply dive in and create a project out of it. Recording an album of sax music would put me in a situation where I had to learn how to play, and fast.
I also knew that as soon as I stated an intention, and invited inspiration, that the Universe would rush in to help me.
And so the adventure began.
It helped that sax great Mindi Abair heard me play (during a Skype sax lesson with her) and said, “You have real talent.”
It helped that I went in the studio with Mathew Dixon and added some bari sax to the first track of our album, Invoking Divinity, which came out hauntingly beautiful.
But that wasn’t a whole album of sax music.
I still remember the first day in the studio with Daniel.
As he set up the mike, and I put together the mouthpiece and reed on my baritone sax, he looked at me and said, “On one level this is an insane thing to do, but let’s do it and see what occurs.”
I played the baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones.
Daniel mixed the music and added some tasty sounds.
I wrote and recorded some hypnotic odes, or prayers.
We ended up with ten tracks – the first five with the poems at an audible level, and the second five with the prayers at a subliminal, or below conscious, level.
I decided to call the album Afflatus, which means, “sudden Divine inspiration.”
And the album is done.
The miracle is complete.
When Mark Hallman, who mastered the album, heard it, he said, “This is the best music you’ve recorded yet. A masterpiece.”
When Mathew Dixon, my partner on several albums, heard it, he said, “It sounds fantastic! I just finished listening and it sounds incredible!”
I’m about as proud as any musician could be.
I’ll be selling the album in 2015 but I’ll be giving it away — yes, you read it right: giving it away for free — in December, as part of my birthday/end of year sale. (I’ll give you details later, of course.)
But I wanted to share this adventure with you today for the lesson it reveals.
It all started with someone who believed in me more than I believed in myself.
With encouragement, you can achieve virtually anything you can conceive.
What’s your dream?
I believe in you.
Go for it!
PS — If you want someone who believes in you, check out Miracles Coaching.
I’ve written about signs before.
I’ve explained that there are “flags” in life that give you clues to move forward, pause, or stop.
Green signs or flags mean keep going, yellow signs mean slow down and reflect, and red flags mean stop.
I look for signs all the time, to confirm my direction, or to warn me to reconsider, or to come to a complete halt.
These signs can be anything, from a line in a book to a street sign with a double meaning to a dream to a statement by a friend or from a movie character, or anything else.
But what if the sign is you?
Let me explain with a story…
I’ve been practicing the saxophone this year and loving it.
So far I have three vintage saxes: an alto, tenor, and baritone.
I know that Selmer made some highly collectible horns for around twenty years. They are called Mark VI and the prized ones have serial numbers from 53201 to 236000. They are considered the Holy Grail of saxes.
While I have two Selmer vintage saxes, I don’t have a baritone sax (which is what I play) from that specific golden era.
But one showed up on eBay.
I stared at it, researched it, considered it, wrote the owner a few questions about it, and more.
I also double checked the serial number on the sax to be sure it was from that magical Selmer period.
But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.
That troubled me.
I kept meditating on the purchase, cleaning internally on any doubts or concerns or uncertainties, but I couldn’t get a resounding yes to actually buy it.
I constantly looked for signs to buy it.
And – believe it or not – I even tried to force a sign from the Universe by consulting an I Ching app, an angel app, and a Magic 8 Ball app.
All said no.
Those were silly apps, I thought, so I was willing to dismiss them.
But I couldn’t.
They were signs.
But the biggest and strongest sign I was getting was from me.
And that sign was also saying no.
I kept feeling — for some unexplained reason — that I shouldn’t get this saxophone.
But I wanted the sax.
I could afford the sax.
I knew the sax was pristine and collectible. Even at the seller’s opening asking price of $10,000 (and his appraised price of $15,000), I could rationalize investing in it. The horn would only go up in value.
But my whole body wouldn’t let me go there, to actually buying it.
I even got to the point where I typed in my bid on eBay, trying to override all the signs, but as my finger hovered over the key to make the $10,000 bid a permanent contract to buy the sax, my body said “No.”
It was strange.
My mind said yes – at least part of my mind – but the rest of me said no.
I was confused.
But I knew to trust the signs.
When you don’t trust the early warning signs, you can end up regretting something.
Since the sign was me, and it/I was saying “red flag,” I passed on the sax.
I trusted that it wasn’t for me, for reasons I may never know.
The auction ended.
I watched someone buy it for $10,000.
I had attracted the sax into my life for a reason, but apparently the reason wasn’t to own it.
So what was the reason?
Over the next day, I reflected on why I wanted that sax.
As I meditated on it, I knew that the case the sax came in was original and complete.
The case I have, for my vintage 1952 Super Balanced Action Selmer baritone, is missing the handle.
I want a handle.
So I wrote to Chadd Berry at Worldwide Sax and asked if he could get me one.
He said yes, and did.
That was a great sign.
I also realized that the sax for sale came with a metal mouthpiece.
I’ve learned enough about the sax to know the sweet sound comes from the mouthpiece, the reed, and the player. The sax itself just amplifies the sound, which you manipulate mostly with the keys. Some sax players spend a fortune on collecting boxes of mouthpieces, desperately looking for the right one for them.
I wanted a metal mouthpiece.
I did some research, determined one that could work for me, and ordered a gold one.
That felt great, too.
Getting the gold mouthpiece (as well as the case handle) was easy, effortless, and almost instantaneous.
That’s how this process is supposed to work when all the flags are green.
And guess what?
I now felt complete.
It’s almost as though I were drawn to the sax on eBay to more deeply connect to my inner compass, and to further my sax playing by getting a metal mouthpiece, not an entire sax, to improve my playing.
For the record, both pieces arrived and work perfectly.
The vintage case is easier to look at and carry with a new handle, and my sax playing is smoother and easier with the gold metal mouthpiece.
And rather than spending $10,000 (or more), I spent less than $1,000 and got everything I needed.
The lesson here, as I see it, is that you have to pay attention to your entire energy system.
If your mind says yes but most of the rest of you says no, that’s a sign.
What is it here for?
What could it mean?
You are the sign.
PS — A great way to fine tune your inner compass is with a trained objective person. Maybe see Miracles Coaching.
PPS — My favorite modern sax player is Mindi Abair. I’m going to have a private sax lesson with her tomorrow, which I am very excited about. She plays the alto sax rather than the baritone, but boy can she play! Her new album, Wild Heart, is a jazz-rock-sax masterpiece. Here’s a taste of her sound from a live performance a while back: