Sat Nov 4
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Washington, DC 20007
Najee is one of the innovators of the urban contemporary smooth jazz movement with two Platinum and four Gold records; he is a true pioneer of the sound. Najee has also performed for "Heads of State" Nelson Mandela and President Bill Clinton and is a recipient of the 2006 NAACP Image Award & the 2008 Trumpet Award.
With two platinum and four gold albums, Najee is one of the pioneers of what is commonly known as Contemporary Jazz. A combination of jazz improvisation and R&B, this genre forms a bridge from the Jazz music of the late 80s to the jazz pop of the mid 90s.
As a native New Yorker Najee began his career playing clarinet and later saxophone and flute in his hometown Jamaica, Queens New York. While in high school Najee began studying under the direction of Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, and Billy Taylor at Jazzmobile in Harlem. Najee also studied flute with Harold Jones at the Manhattan School of Music.
Najee along with his brother Fareed attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with a concentrated study in performance and composition. Najee and Fareed moved back to New York where they were asked to tour with the R&B songstress Chaka Khan. Through his association with Melisa Morgan who was a background vocalist for Chaka Khan
After the release of his debut album in 1986, Najee embarked on a US tour with Freddie Jackson. Najee’s Theme went platinum and was nominated for a Grammy music award in 1987. His sophomore album "Day By Day" also went platinum. These albums were followed by "Tokyo Blue", and "Just An Illusion". Both of these albums went gold. In 1994 Najee recorded "Share My World".
Najees 1995 recording on EMI records was dedicated to one of his favorite artist and good friend Stevie Wonder titled "Najee Plays Songs from the Key of Life: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder". In 1998 Najee with his brother and producer of his last seven albums, released "Morning Tenderness". This was the first project released on their new record label FAN. This critically acclaimed album went to number one on the jazz charts in 1998.
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 The Smooth Side Of Soul.
October 22, 2013, Najee released his highly anticipated second recording for Shanachie Entertainment, “The Morning After - A Musical Journey”. “I am becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing more 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, which is a testament to him being one of the top-selling jazz saxophonist in contemporary jazz.
Najee is the recipient of many awards. He has been recognized by the Soul Train Music Award for Best Jazz Artist, he also received Grammy recognition for Najee’s Theme as well as the NAACP Image Awards, just to name a few.
Najee has toured in the U.S., Africa , Europe including England, France, Italy, Spain, and Asia. While in South Africa in 1998, he performed for Nelson Mandela for the South African leaders birthday and wedding celebration. Najee was a guest of President Bill Clinton in a special performance at the White House honoring President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana.
Over the years Najee has worked with many great artists such as Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, George Duke, Lionel Richie and most recently he performed as a special guest artist on the "Hit and Run" tour with Prince.