200

Najee: My Point of View

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
There's something about instrumentalists in contemporary jazz that can make a critical listener nervous. There's an expectation that the music will be bland, if not awful. Guitarists, bassists, and drummers don't seem to fall into this trap—at least not in great numbers. However, smooth jazz players of wind instruments seem almost invariably locked into creating formulaic music. It's as if executives have decided that if the word "programming isn't among the credits, an album isn't worth producing.

One of the latest victims of this practice is Najee. His new release, My Point of View, is a hybrid. In its attempt to please two crowds, it is at once a typical smooth jazz album and a straight R&B disc. Both genres favor the "voice —either vocals or lead instrument—and don't seem to care what the supporting musicians sound like.

Of course, not all programming is bad. Marcus Miller has proven time and again that the right mix of technology and musicianship can be a beautiful thing. Others who have striven to make their programs sound not so much like programs include Rick Braun, Keith Newton, and Russ Freeman. Unfortunately, none of them appear on Najee's album.

Still, despite misgivings about drums that don't sound like drums on seven of the ten tracks, My Point of View is a likeable album. Najee's experience carries him for the most part. He began playing professionally at age fifteen. Over the years, he has established himself as one of smooth jazz's most prominent sax voices. And My Point of View certainly is within Najee's zone, mixing elements of mild funk, contemporary R&B, and light jazz. Supported by a variable cast that consists mainly of keyboardist/programmers (who wrote or co-wrote eight of the songs), a few guitarists, and three guest vocalists, Najee delivers a pleasant collection of danceable and romantic grooves. Among the best of these are the opener, "Sidewayz, which features Najee on flute, and "2nd 2 None, with the artist on alto saxophone.

However, from a straightforward contemporary jazz perspective, the best song is "Emotional. The sound is made cleaner by the presence of Greg Phillips on drums and Rohan Reid getting one of the few—make that minuscule—bass credits. Penned by Najee, his brother Fareed, Reid, and newcomer Sisaundra, "Emotional is a charming piece that fits perfectly in the urban jazz mode but could be equally at home as straight R&B or smooth jazz. Sisaundra delivers a powerful performance as lead singer. Her voice is like a composite of Toni Braxton, Chaka Khan, and Aretha Franklin, but with her own soulful qualities.

If you're not bothered by synthesized drums, you'll love this album. If, on the other hand, programming turns you off, you might want to skip it. My Point of View is nice, but it would have been much better if the artist had expressed himself free from the corporate forces that favor synths over instruments.

Track Listing: Sidewayz; 3 AM; Fallin

Personnel: Najee: flute, alto and soprano saxophones; Chris

Title: My Point Of View | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Heads Up International


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Ariel CD/LP/Track Review Ariel
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Fukushima CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Magnetic" CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "What Time Is It?" CD/LP/Track Review What Time Is It?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 11, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor