Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter

by Najee
     
 
Along with Kenny G, Richard Elliot, and the late George Howard, Najee was one of the smooth jazz saxophonists who jazz critics loved to hate back in the late '80s and early '90s. Najee received one scathing review after another in those days; some were from

Overview

Along with Kenny G, Richard Elliot, and the late George Howard, Najee was one of the smooth jazz saxophonists who jazz critics loved to hate back in the late '80s and early '90s. Najee received one scathing review after another in those days; some were from jazz purists and bop snobs, while others were from more broad-minded reviewers who appreciated Grover Washington, Jr. (Najee's main influence), Ronnie Laws, and David Sanborn but felt that Najee's work was too contrived, too formulaic, and too rigid for its own good. But in 1995, Najee pleasantly surprised listeners with his engaging Stevie Wonder tribute Songs from the Key of Life; instead of simply playing Wonder's gems note-for-note, Najee seriously interpreted them and demonstrated that he could, in fact, be a legitimate soul-jazz improviser of the Washington/Sanborn/Laws/Stanley Turrentine/Eddie Harris variety when he put his mind to it. Songs from the Key of Life was Najee's crowning achievement, and it demonstrated that instead of automatically dismissing everything he does as mindless fluff, it's best to judge him on an album-by-album basis. That brings us to 2009's Mind Over Matter, a smooth jazz disc that often plays it much too safe but does have its moments. The automatic-pilot approach doesn't serve Najee well on forgettable radio-oriented tracks such as "Love You a Lifetime," "Sweet Summer Nights," and "Love Forever and a Day," but Najee (who is heard on soprano sax, tenor sax, alto sax, and flute) fares much better on "One More Thing" and "Stolen Glances" (both of which unite him with keyboardist/producer/composer Jeff Lorber). As a rule, smooth jazz recordings that Lorber is a part of manage to balance commercial and artistic considerations and avoid sounding like elevator music; so not surprisingly, "One More Thing" and "Stolen Glances" have commercial appeal but are edgier, meatier, and more substantial than a lot of smooth jazz. Other decent tracks on this mostly instrumental CD include the dreamy "Needless to Say" (which sounds a bit like something Lonnie Liston Smith would do) and the funky but laid-back "We Gone Ride" (an urban
eo-soul number featuring singer Eric Benet). Mind Over Matter is very much a mixed bag, but overall, it's superior to early Najee releases like 1988's Day by Day and 1990s Tokyo Blue -- although Songs from the Key of Life is still the best CD to acquire if one is making his/her first Najee purchase.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/25/2009
Label:
Heads Up
UPC:
0053361315627
catalogNumber:
3156

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Najee   Primary Artist,Flute,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Gary Taylor   Vocals,Background Vocals
Dwight Sills   Guitar
Jeff Lorber   Synthesizer,Guitar,Electric Bass,Keyboards
John Grant   Acoustic Guitar
Pino Palladino   Bass Guitar
Victor Williams   Percussion
Eric Benét   Vocals,Background Vocals
Will Brock   Piano,Keyboards
Alvin S. White   Guitar
Tony Moore   Drums
Mike Parlett   Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Darren Rahn   Keyboards,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,fender rhodes
Frank Selman   Electric Guitar
Jason Rahn   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Will Holton   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Roderick Bonner   Synthesizer,Drums,Keyboards
Richi Valentino   Bass
Myron McAdory   Guitar
Darryl Woodson   Piano,Keyboards
CJ Mercer   Bass
Andrew Lipman   Trombone
Daniel Powell   Drums
John Papenbrook   Trumpet
Kentric Morris   Drums
Lomon Andrews   Background Vocals
Mel Brown   Bass

Technical Credits

Gary Taylor   Composer,Programming,Producer
Najee   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Jeff Lorber   Composer,Producer,Engineer
John Grant   Engineer
Eric Benét   Composer,Producer
Will Brock   Composer
Demonté Posey   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Darren Rahn   Composer,Producer,Engineer,drum programming
Kevin Sucher   Engineer
Jason Rahn   Engineer
Will Holton   Composer
Will Holton   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Roderick Bonner   Programming,Engineer
Darryl Woodson   Composer
Chabra Mercer   Composer
Kentric Morris   Composer
M. Scott   Graphic Design
Andreo Heard   Composer
Mel Brown   Engineer

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