Grammy Winning Multi-Instrumentalist & Composer Najee Embraces Life & Love On Invigorating New Recording "The Morning After" A Musical Love JourneyGrammy-winning, multi-instrumental wizard Najee has made a career following his heart and keen musical intuition while pushing musical boundaries and becoming a pioneer in the music game. Having collaborated with everyone from Prince and Quincy Jones to Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock, Najee's technical agility,grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought after musicians of his generation. With two Platinum and four Gold albums under his belt, he is an icon whose musical vision spawned an entire new genre by fusing the music close to his heart (R&B and Jazz). Three decades later and the Renaissance man is showing that his evolution is still in full swing. An alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music, Najee was mentored by jazz giants Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath as well as classical maven and flutist Harold Jones of the New York Philharmonic. October 22, 2013, Najee will release his highly anticipated second recording for Shanachie Entertainment, The Morning After - A Musical Journey. 'I am becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing more
New CD Pays Homage To Dear Friend George Duke, Draws Inspiration From Saxophonist's World Travels & Features Stellar Duet with Meli'sa Morgan.
diversity in my recordings,' states the humble and eloquent musician. 'This is something that I have done as a musician my entire career in live performances. I believe my audience is ready to hear me expand beyond the 'Smooth Jazz' genre.' Najee's latest musical offering is a commanding statement from the peerless instrumentalist and composer, that is a testament as to why he has long reigned as the King of contemporary jazz.
A visionary, Najee assembles an all-star cast of musicians on The
Morning After - A Musical Love Journey. Featured artists on the CD
include producer Demonte Posey (Eric Benet, Toni Braxton, Babyface),
bassist Bill Sharpe (Dave Coz and Barbra Streisand), guitarist Ray
Fuller (George Duke, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston), drummer Daniel
Powell (Tamia), bassist Brian Bromberg (Miles Davis and Herbie
Hancock) and drummer Joel Taylor (Joe Sample's current band).
Chart-topping R&B diva Meli'sa Morgan also joins Najee for an
unforgettable duet. The Morning After - A Musical Love Journey opens
with the sound of Najee's voice as he anxiously awaits to board his
plane but is unexpectedly delayed waiting for a certain special woman.
Alas, she arrives and the journey begins. Najee explains, 'The album
title describes a fantasy trip where two people meet and experience
their journey together.' The handsome saxophonist describes the making
of his new CD as an intense process. 'It was recorded as a live studio
album in two ½ weeks, during which time we also mixed and mastered the music. I would say the anticipation was very much part of the journey with this record.' Najee's musical adventure unfolds with the jubilant 'Rendezvous,' featuring his robust tenor saxophone.
The Morning After ' A Musical Love Journey finds Najee transporting
listeners around the globe to locations that have inspired him in some
way. The soulful, fluid and breezy 'San Tropez' takes us to the French
Riviera while the dubbed out and mysteriously hypnotic 'Mafalala' was
written in tribute for the township Maputo in Mozambique.
'What impressed me and the members of my band was, in spite of the
poverty, hardships and challenging living situations some places, the
people did not let it reflect their inner resolve. When you see their
faces, their spirit reflects a sense of pride and inner glow. This
song is tribute to the courageous and strong people who live there.'
The Morning After- A Musical Love Journey also makes an express stop '
in one of Najee's favorite cities. 'Champs-Elysées,' the album's
first single, is inspired by the architecture, history, food and
culture of Paris.
Born in the Greenwich Village in New York City and raised in Jamaica,
Queens, Najee's musical pursuits began in grade school. The Morning
After- A Musical Love Journey takes us back to Najee's musical roots
with his swinging and in-the-pocket number "W 72 and Broadway." Najee, who fell in love with jazz at the age of eight says it all began while growing up on the upper west side of Manhattan. 'My mother would play recordings of Miles Davis and other jazz greats in our household everyday,' remembers the saxophonist. 'As a child I would walk in my neighborhood and pass by an array of jazz lounges, restaurants, where you could hear jazz musicians playing throughout the day.' Najee also takes the opportunity to pay tribute to his dear friend, the revered late pianist and master producer George Duke. The two met in the '90s and throughout the years developed a close friendship and toured together with artists Quincy Jones, Dianne Reeves, Will Downing and numerous others. Najee shares, ' The first time I met George Duke was in 1991, it was my second time winning the Soul Train Music Award for "Best Jazz Artist.' After I accepted the award, I was rushed on stage to perform with him and Dionne Warwick for the song "Night and Day.' Afterwards, George and I began working on my album Just an Illusion for which he produced the track "Loving Every Moment" featuring
Jeffrey Osborne. George later produced my entire album Songs in the
Key of Life, a tribute to legend Stevie Wonder.' Najee's composition,
'Shinjuku," (named after an area of Tokyo) was written for Duke. 'It
reminds me of my time in Asia touring with George,' comments Najee. As a colleague and dear friend in the business, those experiences are
very memorable and I will cherish them always!' Also featured on the
new CD is Najee's memorable sultry duet with R&B diva Meli'sa Morgan
called "In the Mood to Take It Slow." Najee along with his brother
Fareed first worked with Meli'sa on tour with Chaka Khan. Najee later
recorded the duet 'Do You Still Love Me' with Meli'sa close to twenty
years ago. Najee declares, 'I believe Meli'sa is one of our R&B
treasures and I am grateful for our reunion on this project.'
When Najee burst onto the scene with his soulful R&B, soul and jazz
drenched sound and songs like 'Najee's Theme,' 'Sweet Love' and
'Betcha Don't Know,' it was not long before his trademark soprano
found a home at the top of the charts and he carved out his own unique
niche in the musical landscape. 'My first love was the tenor saxophone
and flute,' confides Najee. 'It was my brother Fareed who got me to
play soprano saxophone. We would argue over me not wanting to play
soprano. Then one day someone gave me a soprano saxophone and I played on his songs. That began my soprano saxophone career and little did I know then, that would be the instrument to make me popular. As I
began to develop on my instrument, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker,
Yusef Lateef and Hubert Laws on flute were some of the artists that
inspired me. As an industrious and hungry young musician, Najee had
the good fortune of coming through Dr. Billy Taylor's now legendary
Jazzmobile program. While a student at the New England Conservatory
(where both Najee and his brother attended) he studied jazz with
George Russell and Jaki Byard. When he finished school Najee returned
to New York in the early 80s and was lucky to land a gig with Chaka
Khan along with his brother and guitarist Fareed (who is now his
manager). In 1987 Najee's Theme, was released and the saxophonist
earned a slot on tour with singer Freddie Jackson. The following year,
Day By Day was released, and in 1991, Tokyo Blue, which is one of
Najee's most successful and enduring recordings. Tokyo Blue (which was
produced by Najee's brother Fareed) and Day By Day both went Gold and led to two Soul Train Awards for Najee (Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and
Just An Illusion came in 1992 and around this time, Najee collaborated
with such iconic figures as Quincy Jones and a collaboration with jazz
greats Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton which resulted
in the album Live At The Greek. Share My World came in 1994 and was
followed in 1995 by a critically acclaimed tribute to Stevie Wonder's
1976 classic, Songs In The Key Of Life, produced by George Duke and
featuring Herbie Hancock and Sheila E. among others. His CD Morning
Tenderness, released in 1998, went to #1 on the contemporary jazz
charts. For Najee, the late '90s were marked by extraordinary
international experiences, from performing at Nelson Mandela's
birthday celebration in South Africa to playing as a special guest of
President Clinton at the White House at an event honoring President
Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana. Najee also spent two years of
touring (2001-2003) with Prince and appears on Prince's albums Rainbow
Children and One Night Alone. In 2003 Najee released Embrace featuring
special guests Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. My Point Of View was his
follow up in 2005 featuring his good friend and vocalist Will Downing.
2007's Rising Sun joined Najee with Phil Perry and Mind Over Matter
from 2009 paired Najee with singer Eric Benét. 2012 saw the release of
Najee's critically heralded and Shanachie Entertainment debut, The
Smooth Side Of Soul.
With the release of The Morning After- A Musical Love Journey, Najee
concludes, 'Making music at this point in my career is still exciting
and I am always evolving. As a musician the love of performing for
people whether in studio or live is still a gratifying experience. The
best feeling to me is presenting something new to the world! Enjoy.'
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