Last week American saxophonist Najee was in town to record some tracks for his forthcoming album. JLR was invited to the plush Livingston studios in Wood Green (North London) to see some of the recording session and to meet the musicians involved in the project.
Najee has been one of the premier saxophonists in the smooth, r & b and contemporary jazz idiom since the late 1980s when I first heard his music played on the radio. Najee’s career has gone from strength to strength in that time and he has played with some of the best known jazz musicians in the world includingStanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, and Larry Carlton as well as playing alongside great singers such as Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle and Freddie Jackson.
What persuaded Najee to book a recording session in London? A commitment to bass player and friend Dean Mark who has played many years in the London jazz scene and has performed with some of the top American musicians like Roy Ayers and Don Blackman. On this occasion the musicians were recommendations for Najee and the choices were all British.
It is always fun to witness the recording process or a live performance, especially in jazz. And what I enjoyed about this particular session was the interaction between the musicians who were really focused on the job at hand, especially when listening back to the tracks, seeing what could be improved and if any further takes were necessary. Najee came across as a decisive and generous leader, encouraging the guys to express themselves and allowing them to be involved in the decision making process, not dictating the whole session. Very impressive indeed and for sure I am looking forward to a cracking record when it comes out in the spring.
I took my Sony Digital recorder with me on the off chance of getting an interview with Najee. Thankfully he was happy to oblige and you can hear our chat here.
Najee and his group will be playing at the Jazz Café in May of this year. Don’t miss it.