Najee: Mind Over Matter

Najee’s first album since 2007’s straightahead-influenced Rising Sun marks the popular saxophonist’s return to the cool and sophisticated urban sounds he’s known for. In fact, Najee calls it a “friendly album,” one influenced by responses received onstage. In fact, on at least half the album he calls on his live touring band, giving the project an intimate feel. He took some of the inspiration for the CD from the late, great Miles Davis, who later in his career took stylish and simple-yet compelling-melodies and played them over memorable grooves.

Najee enlists some of the best in the biz to help with songwriting, including saxophonist Darren Rahn for a co-write on the hit-worthy “Sweet Summer Nights.” (Rahn has produced No. 1 singles for Dave Koz and Wayman Tisdale, among others.) And the very capable Jeff Lorber adds his writing and keyboard skills on the retro “Stolen Glances” and the blues-funk of “One More Thing.” Najee is an expert at the ballad, as he shows again in the pensively jazzy “The Journey,” on “Moon Over Carolina” with vocalist Gary Taylor, and on “We Gone Ride,” a sassy and playfully reminiscing tune with Eric Benet on vocals.