Najee, a pioneer of the "rhythm and jazz" movement of the ‘80s that helped define the contemporary jazz scene, joins Heads Up International with the worldwide release of My Point of View (HUCD 3104 and on SACD in 5.1 as HUSA 9104). The album is a culmination of nearly two decades of cutting edge work by a versatile saxophonist who has consistently tested and redefined the parameters of an entire musical genre.
Rich in texture and theme, My Point of View includes guest appearances by three fine vocalists, veteran Will Downing and newcomers Lomon Andrews and Sisaundra. Other session personnel include keyboardists James Lloyd ("2nd 2 None"), Rex Rideout ("Back in the Day" and "Charm") and Chris "Big Dog" Davis ("3 AM," "Falling in Love with You," "My Point of View" and "How Lovely You Are").All three of these keyboard virtuosi also earn songwriting and production credits along the way in addition to laying down tracks.
The album opens with "Sidewayz," the sole flute track in the ten-song set. Backed by Chris "Big Dog" Davis’ keyboards and drum programming, Najee’s virtuosity on flute creates lines that are mellow one moment and dramatically ascending and cascading the next. The followup track, "3 AM," veers into a more laid back and sultry direction, with Will Downing’s trademark rich and resonant vocals setting the tone for this sensuous late-nighter. "Falling in Love with You" is a heartfelt piece featuring Najee’s soprano sax and Davis’ keys behind the stirring and agile new voice of Lomon Andrews.
Other noteworthy installments later in the sequence include "Emotional," an electrifying track produced by Fareed, who arranges Sisaundra’s soaring vocals in a seamless counterpoint with Najee’s soprano sax. Other players contributing to this multi-layered track include keyboardist Nathaniel "Crockett" Wilkie, guitarist Alvin White, bassist Rohan Reid and drummer Greg Phillips.
"Miyuki" is the funky, percussive closer, with Najee’s soprano sax underscored by keyboardist Khalil Parker and bassist "Dre Boogie" Edwards. Najee’s son, Superb – who is also co-author and co-producer of the track – handles the guitar work and drum programming.
While the set represents a diversity of styles and voices, past and present, the net result is unmistakably Najee. "Artists go through a period of imitation, where we learn how to do what we do through listening to and imitating other people, and I’m no different," he says. "In my formative years, I would imitate people like Grover Washington, Charlie Parker or John Coltrane or Hubert Laws, but all of it gets filtered through my own sensibilities. At the end of he day, I still sound like Najee, and the music you hear is from My Point of View."