Archive for July 29th, 2017

Najee – Poetry In Motion

“As a musician, there is always something new that I want to share with my audience,” admits Najee, the multi-Platinum selling contemporary jazz pioneer who has made a career of reinventing himself, sparking trends and never resting on his laurels. “The ability to collaborate with different musicians and to continually find fresh approaches to my music is what keeps me inspired.” The multiple Grammy-Award nominated instrumentalist, composer and quadruple threat who is equally adept on soprano, tenor and alto saxophones and flute, recently celebrated his 30th anniversary as a recording artist. Najee, who has collaborated with iconic figures Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and George Duke, will release his seventeenth album as a leader, Poetry In Motion, August 25, 2017. The anticipated CD is dedicated to two ground-breaking musicians who Najee has had the distinction of working with – Prince and Al Jarreau. “Both artists in their own way have changed the culture of music forever,” shares the saxophonist. “Whenever I have worked with people of their caliber of artistry, I have always walked away with something that helps to shape my musical conversation.” Poetry In Motion finds Najee nothing short of inspiration, as he calls upon a few all-star friends to create a dialogue well worth remembering. Najee’s fourth recording for Shanachie unites him with such dynamic musicians as Will Downing, Maysa, Eric Roberson, Bluey of Incognito, Barry Eastmond, Bobby Lyle, Blake Aaron and Randy Bowland.

Najee is a master storyteller. Whether the debonair multi-instrumentalist is engaged in a verbal or musical conversation, his alluring charisma has a way of seducing you into his world. His technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought after musicians of his generation. Poetry In Motion is a riveting sonic journey that finds the saxman doing what he does best – shape-shifting through diverse musical terrain and fusing the best elements of all the music that is close to his heart. “As a youngster growing up in New York City I was exposed to a multi-cultural musical environment,” reflects the saxophonist. “It was through these interactions that I was able to benefit from playing with people who played Latin music, Jazz but mostly R&B. This has become a part of my musical personality. I must admit at times I struggle to stay focused with one genre!” Lucky for us Najee does not have to choose and the result on Poetry In Motion is a beautiful expression of his musical curiosity and identity.

Poetry In Motion opens with the buoyant and luminescent “Stratosphere,” showcasing Najee’s soaring, warm and supple soprano saxophone. Najee penned the intoxicating and inviting original with Barry Eastmond who lends his piano and compositional skills to several tracks on the CD. Eastmond has produced and collaborated with everyone from Al Jarreau and Anita Baker to Freddie Jackson and Brandy. “I’ve known Barry for a very long time and working with him was one of the greatest joys of recording this album,” shares Najee. The irresistible and fun loving “Is It The Way,” features singer Eric Roberson. “Eric is one of the brightest young R&B vocalists, producer, songwriter and performer in our industry and it was an absolute pleasure to have him contribute his gift on this record,” shares Najee. Roberson’s soulful vocals gel perfectly with Najee’s bluesy soprano and Eastmond’s buttery keys. Poetry In Motion also finds Najee collaborating with the brilliant producer, multi-instrumentalist and Incognito mastermind Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick. “Bluey is one of the greatest people to work with in the studio,” shares Najee. “He is unique in his approach to getting the work done.” Indeed Najee, Bluey and Incognito get the work done on the tour-de-force dance-floor number “Let’s Take It Back.” Najee changes the pace with the seductive and Latin-tinged “Noche Romantica,” the perfect platform for the saxophonist to shine a spotlight on his gorgeous tone and impeccable phrasing. The syncopated intro with Najee on his flute calls to mind Chick Corea’s “Spain,” while his passionate and emotive tenor saxophone at times is reminiscent of the longing tenor of Gato Barbieri. Najee enlists the “Prince Of Sophisticated Soul,” Will Downing for the moving “We’ll Be Missing You.” He shares, “Over the years we have worked together on several records and have performed around the world. I could not have made a better choice to write and perform a song that honors Al Jarreau and Prince.” Continue reading

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