One of the best-selling instrumentalists of the late '80s to mid-'90s, Najee has been a consistent favorite in the quiet storm and smooth jazz markets. Often compared to Kenny G, George Howard, and Dave Koz, the New Yorker has been greatly influenced by Grover Washington, Jr. -- although he hasn't been nearly as adventurous. Heavily produced and quite formulaic, Najee's albums have tended to avoid improvisation and strive for commercial radio airplay above all else. Debuting in 1987 with Najee's Theme, Najee was an immediate hit in the new adult contemporary (NAC) market. Similar pop/urban jazz dates like 1988's Day by Day and 1990's Tokyo Blue did nothing to jeopardize his niche on smooth jazz radio. On-stage, Najee takes some risks and stretches out more.
Morning Tenderness was released in 1998, followed by Love Songs (2000), Embrace (2003), My Point of View (2005), True Spirit (with John Grant, Victor Williams, and Dennis Chambers in 2006), Rising Sun (2007), and Mind Over Matter (2009). In 2012, Najee released his 14th studio album, The Smooth Side of Soul, featuring the track "First Kiss," a collaboration with R&B vocalist Phil Perry. Najee returned in 2013 with The Morning After: A Musical Love Journey, which included the song "Shinjuku," a tribute to the late jazz keyboard legend George Duke. Two years later, he delivered his 16th studio effort, You, Me and Forever, which reached the Top Ten on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2017, he returned with Poetry in Motion. ~ Alex Henderson