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Release Date:
January 31, 2012

Reviewed by:
Harvey Cline

The master musician of sax and flute is back at it for a release that I think you’re going to love. Labeled as “smooth” in the title, this one is anything but that. The ten tracks here offer a lot, including some great musicians as well as some funky beats that will have you tapping from the beginning.

I love the beat of the opener called “Dis N Dat” which is co-written by Chris “Big Dog” Davis. The bass line begins the intro followed some great tenor by Najee and some timely keys by Davis. This one moves along well and has that infectious back beat that draws you in right away. It’s a great showcase for Najee’s ability on sax and a good one to open with as well. It leads in to the faster paced “Just To Fall In Love” featuring the classic vocals of Phil Perry. Perry lends a hand in the writing of this one along with Davis and Will Downing. Najee’s flute is the centerpiece here while adding a little tenor along the way. Says Najee, “It reminds me of the very first record I ever played on for a label called TK Disco and featured me playing flute. Phil Perry has done a masterful job performing on the record and video.” “Perfect Nites” finally slows it down a little bit while featuring Najee on alto for the first time. Look for this one to be a single real soon. While the beat is a little slower, this one moves along a pretty good pace and showcases the sax man through out. He brings the flute back to center on “You Tube” for some more good vibes.

He teams up with Jeff Lorber on “In The Clouds” that sounds a little more “old school” that features Najee on alto through most of this one with some flute highlights mixed in for good measure. It floats along just as the name implies and is a great backdrop to the next song. Najee co-writes “One Night In Soho” with fellow sax artist Darren Rahn. This has to be one of my favorites on the project and one of the better ones musically. It is also one you’ll be hearing on the radio over the next few months. Rahn also helped in the recording, mixing and engineering while adding keys, percussion and background sax. Turn this one up and enjoy. “Fu Fu She She” starts off innocently enough with Najee on solo sax before busting out into a nice little funky number that features Davis on keys. Lorber gets back into the action once more as Najee brings out the soprano for a romantic ballad titled “First Kiss.” Jeff’s piano solo shines, and makes this another one to remember. The finale is a Jimmy Heath penned song featuring Najee on tenor called “Sound For Sore Ears.” James Lloyd adds some great piano and this one kicks all the way through for a standup closing to a wonderful project.

I really think you will enjoy this one from Najee. There’s a lot here to listen to and each song is completely different. Says Najee,” My challenge has always been to record music that I enjoy playing while at the same time meeting the requirements that I believe my audience would like to hear. I am always looking for something to help me grow as a musician.” He does that here with ten new tracks that I believe you will enjoy. Be sure to check out The Smooth Side of Soultoday.