- 1. Career
Jerome Najee Rasheed, known professionally as Najee, is an American Jazz-Smooth Jazz saxophonist and flautist.
After his studies at the New England Conservatory, Najee returned to New York City in the early 1980s. In 1983 he and his brother Fareed toured with legendary vocalist Chaka Khan (Ain’t Nobody Tour). In 1986, he released his debut album, entitled Najee's Theme (EMI/Capitol). The album earned Najee a Grammy Award Nomination for Best Jazz Album. In 1987, Najee accepted an opportunity to open on the "Tasty Love" tour with R&B singer Freddie Jackson. In 1988, Najee's second album “Day By Day” was released and went platinum. “Day By Day” was produced by several producers including legendary producer Barry Eastmond (Freddie Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker and Billy Ocean). In 1990, “Tokyo Blue” was released. This album was produced by Najee's brother Fareed, and is one of his most successful recordings to date. Tokyo Blue and Day By Day led to Najee winning two Soul Train Awards for Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and 1993.
In 1992, Najee's next album Just an Illusion (EMI/Capitol). This album was produced by several producers, including Arif Mardin, George Duke, Fareed, Marcus Miller and Wayne Brathwaite.
In 1994, Najee toured and was featured on the live recording Live at The Greek (Sony). The album featured Najee, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton. It was during this time that he made guest appearances with Quincy Jones at the (Montreaux Jazz Festival).
Following this collaboration, his next album "Share My World" was released in 1994 and was followed by his tribute to Stevie Wonder's 1976 classic, Songs In The Key of Life in 1995. The CD was produced by George Duke and features Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Paul Jackson Jr., Sheila E. and Patrice Rushen among others. His CD Morning Tenderness was released in 1998, and went #1 on the contemporary jazz charts. Also within the same year The Best of Najee was released, (Blue Note Records/Capitol) and he once again toured on behalf of the USO for the troops in the Mediterranean: Spain and Turkey.
In 1998, Najee performed at Nelson Mandela's birthday celebration in South Africa, along with Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. Najee was also a special guest of President Bill Clinton to perform at the White House. This event hosted President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana. Najee spent three years touring (2000-2003) with Prince and appeared on Prince's albums Rainbow Children and One Night Alone.
In 2003, Najee released Embrace which was produced by his brother Fareed, featuring guest artists Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. My Point of View was his follow-up in 2005 featuring his good friend and vocalist Will Downing. In 2006, Najee won an NAACP Image Award for "Best Jazz Artist". His 2007 album Rising Sun, featured singer Phil Perry and Mind Over Matter. In 2009, he released “Mind Over Matter”, with a collaboration that featured vocalist Eric Benét and producer Jeff Lorber. In 2012, his album The Smooth Side of Soul was his first release with Shanachie Records which featured production from keyboardist and producer Jeff Lorber and saxophonist and producer Darren Rahn. This album featured vocalist Phil Perry on the lead single, "Just To Fall In Love", which was produced by Chris “ Big Dog” Davis. The video for "Just To Fall In Love" also features actress Vanessa Bell Calloway and songstress N'dambi.
Najee's second release with Shanachie in 2013, "The Morning After - A Musical Love Journey". "The Morning After" earned him an NAACP Image Award Nomination for "Outstanding Jazz Album" (2014) and a Soul Train Awards Nomination for "Best Contemporary Jazz Performance" (2014). The album produced by Demonte Posey, features R&B singer Meli'sa Morgan and bassist Brian Bromberg, with musicians Bill Sharpe on bass, Ray Fuller on guitar, Daniel Powell on drums, Nick Smith on piano and drummer Joel Taylor.
Najee released his third album with Shanachie, entitled: You, Me, and Forever, on June 23, 2015. The album features singer and songwriter Frank McComb, keyboardist James Lloyd from Pieces of a Dream, and pianist Robert Damper. You, Me, and Forever also features musicians from Najee's touring band including: Rod Bonner on keys, Daniel Powell on drums, RaShawn Northington on electric bass, and Chuck Johnson on guitar who is also the lead vocalist on the popular Ambrosia song "Biggest Part of Me". “You, Me and Forever” was produced by Najee, Chris “Big Dog” Davis and British born bassist Dean Mark. The album is currently available worldwide.
Najee has performed and recorded with vocalists including: Chaka Khan, Freddie Jackson, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Prince, Patti LaBelle,Toni Braxton, Vesta Williams and Jeffrey Osborne. He has also recorded and performed with instrumentalists: Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Charles Earland, Paul Jackson Jr. and George Duke.