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Entertainment : Reviews Last Updated: Jul 10th, 2009 - 13:45:15


Najee: A JAZZ GREAT
By Kim Betton, CRESCENDOjazz.com
Sep 9, 2005, 19:40

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His music is like an oasis in the desert, the calm in the wind and the sweetness of success. Whether you are taking it "Day By Day," smooth cruising through "Najee’s Theme," or waking up to "Morning Tenderness," the musical giant is a true sensation in the world of contemporary jazz. Najee, who has recorded seven albums, including two platinum and four gold, has added another delight to his award winning collection with the release of "My Point of View," on Heads Up International. “We go to different places on this new recording," Najee told CRESCENDOjAZZ.com. “I’m real excited about this project and working with Heads Up International.”

Photo Credit: najeeonline.com


The native New Yorker sways crowds around the globe with his silky smooth sounds of the saxophone and flute. While fans enjoy the flow of "My Point of View" Najee takes a moment to reflect on "Embrace," his album recorded shortly after September 11, 2001. The project served as a tribute to the lives of Americans torn during the tragedy. “Embrace was a special recording,” said Najee. “We started to name the record ‘Believe,’ but decided on its current title as a way of embracing the bravery, love and support Americans share, especially during such tragic times.”

Najee’s interest in music became apparent when he was nine years old. He played his first instrument, the clarinet, in the elementary school band. Later, Najee wowed his audiences as a student with the eloquence of the flute. Eventually, it was the inspiration of his mother that led him to the saxophone. “My goal was to become an engineer when I was in school, but my love for music led me in a different direction,” he said.

Najee is also making way for those following in his footsteps. He volunteers at schools and conducts music workshops for students. “It’s essential to give back,” Najee said. “Taking time out to motivate and educate young people is always important. I think it is sad kids don’t have as many assets as I was blessed to have. I will continue to encourage them and share my experiences in an effort to inspire them to achieve their dreams.”

In 1980, Najee attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with a concentrated study in performance and composition. In 1983, at age 23, he returned to New York where he was asked to tour with vocalist Chaka Kahn. He proudly remembers that was the beginning of his illustrious musical career. "Through the kindness of Chaka Kahn and her background vocalist, Melissa Morgan, I met Charles Huggins of Hush Productions,” Najee told CRESCENDOjAZZ.com. “Charles invited me to record my debut album through his company, and in 1986 I released my first album on EMI.”

Through the years Najee has performed with many other recording artists including Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, George Duke, Jonathan Butler, Will Downing, Phyllis Hyman, Patti LaBelle, Freddie Jackson and Prince, as a special guest on the “Hit and Run” tour.

Najee’s legendary inspirations include Charlie Parker, Ben E. King, Grover Washington, and John Coltrane. “Those are the pioneers of jazz,” said Najee. ”They have helped to pave the way for me and many others for which I am grateful.”

Najee has toured in the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe, including England, France, Italy and Spain. While in South Africa in 1998, he performed in a celebration honoring Nelson Mandela. In 1999, Najee was a guest of President Bill Clinton at a special White House performance honoring President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Soul Train Music Award for Best Jazz Artist in (1991 and 1993) and a Grammy nomination for Najee’s Theme in 1987. "Life has been a blessing. I am thankful."


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