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Najee: Poetry in Motion

Read "Poetry in Motion" reviewed by Liz Goodwin

On Najee's 15th studio release, and fourth project for the Shanachie label, the Jamaica Queens, N.Y. native delivers an inviting, feel-good album on which he is joined by such diverse talents as pianist/keyboardist Bobby Lyle, multi-instrumentalist/producer/composer/arranger Barry Eastmond, multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer Jean-Paul “Bluey" Maunick, vocalists Will Downing, Maysa and Eric Roberson, and guitarist Blake Aaron. The multi-reedman's 1986 debut, Najee's Theme (EMI), was reflective of its time--an era when modern R & B grooves with jazzy inflections and rhythmic ambiance ...

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Najee: The Smooth Side of Soul

Read "The Smooth Side of Soul" reviewed by Jeff Winbush

It's hard to remember, but there was a time when jazz used to be played in clubs where the audience didn't simply sit in their seats listening attentively and applauding politely; they even got up and danced to the music. Jazz you can dance to? That seems almost as foreign as listening to large round black discs on a device formerly known as a “record player."Well, you can dance to The Smooth Side of Soul if you want ...

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Najee: Mind Over Matter

Read "Mind Over Matter" reviewed by Jeff Winbush

A fixture on smooth jazz radio since his debut album Najee's Theme (EMI, 1986), at this point in his career Najee is more consistent than innovative. He's a worthy inheritor of the title Grover Washington Jr., held as master saxophonist of the genre but, with a few rare exceptions such as Songs From the Key of Life (EMI, 1995), he hasn't strayed far from his usual smooth jazz and funk territory. Najee has a pleasant tone and style to spare, ...

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Najee: Rising Sun

Read "Rising Sun" reviewed by Jeff Winbush

After over twenty years in the business, Najee is what Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction would call “cool." You never get the sense that Najee is sweating it trying to come up with the right riff. He's just too cool to sweat.Which doesn't mean to suggest that Najee is putting it on cruise control. Rising Sun is only his eleventh album in twenty-one years , so it isn't as if he's just putting out product. As an artist ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Najee: My Point of View

Read "My Point of View" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

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 ...


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