December 9, 2009


Among the more commercially successful instrumentalists of the past two-plus decades, saxophonist/flautist Najee consistently connects with both jazz and RB aficionados his crossover appeal has led some to dub him the “innovator of urban jazz.” Najee’s broad appeal as a player also when considering the artists whom he has recorded or performed with: Prince, Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke, Chaka Khan, and Billy Cobham, to name just a few.

Najee’s newest disc, Mind Over Matter, finds him collaborating with the likes of Eric Benet, Gary Taylor, and Jeff Lorber.

1. “Quiet Girl” Billy Childs

He’s one of my favorite artists. I like that whole album [Take for Example This…], but that song is just a beautiful melody, a beautiful song.

2. “Madame Toulouse” Michael Brecker

As a saxophonist, composer, and all around scientist, he’s one of my favorites.

3. “Giant Steps” Kenny Garrett

He probably has the most unique approach that I’ve heard in a long time. That song is in 4/4, but he did it in 3/4 and it’s very interesting.

4. “Impressions” Brecker/Hargrove/Hancock

That’s another song where they did something totally different with it. They took an up-tempo tune and made it a ballad and it’s also very interesting harmonically.

5. “Ain’t it Funky Now” George Duke

He took James Brown’s classic and he just tore it up on acoustic piano.

6. “Ponta de Areia” Esperanza Spaulding

I think she’s the most refreshing artist I’ve heard in a long time, to be honest with you. She’s one of those people who has the jazz vocabulary, but she manages to convey it almost like a pop star.

7. “A Tear for Crystal” David Sanborn

That’s one of the most beautiful ballads ever. A very simple song, but played beautifully.

8. “Naima” Alex Bugnon

He did a version that I thought was really, really nice. It’s a contemporary version done very well.

9. “So Amazing” Gerald Albright

I think this is just one of the best reinterpretations of a popular song.

10. “More” Miles Davis

That is one of my all time favorites. It’s a little sentimental for me, as well, because when I was beginning to listen to jazz this was one of the first recordings that I really loved.

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