Desert Island Jazz
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Francis Wong

Most Recent Castaway - 25th July, 2014
  Najee (2014)

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Flautist/saxophonist Najee was born in Greenwich Village and grew up variously in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

It's difficult to keep up with the number of musical circles Najee moves in. He's collaborated with everyone from Quincy Jones to Stevie Wonder to Herbie Hancock. And every venture, it seems, is taken on with passion and fearlessness.

A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Najee was mentored by Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath, learning also from Jaki Byard and George Russell, having previously come through Dr Billy Taylor's Jazzmobile project. Hitting NYC professionally in the early 1980s, he and his guitarist brother, Fareed (now his manager), were lucky enough to land a gig with Chaka Khan.

Thereafter, Najee really hit his stride, maintaining it throughout the '80s and '90s: smooth jazz was coming in and he was right there—gold records everywhere, touring with Prince, performing in South Africa at the birthday party of Nelson Mandela, and playing at the White House.

You can't put this versatile creative player solely in that "smooth jazz" box because Najee is far too big for it.
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Bob Mintzer In the Moment Straight Ahead Art of Life
# 2 Harvey Mason With All My Heart Without a Song RCA
# 3 Jon Irabagon The Observer The Observer Concord
# 4 Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Deron Johnson and Najee Live at the Greek Minute by Minute Epic/Sony
# 5 Michael Brecker Wide Angles Brexterity Verve
# 6 Kenny Garrett Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane Giant Steps Warner Bros
         
Book George Soros, "The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets"
         
Luxury Item "My Bose headset and my iPad or an iPod"