Center of the Heart Najee
- 1Bella Vista05:06
- 2Face to Face04:17
- 3Sumthin' Sumthin'04:31
- 6The Way She Moves04:19
- 7One Note Love04:22
- 8Speak Love!04:17
- 9Center of the Heart04:40
- 10Tonight We Say Goodbye06:01
Info for Center of the Heart
Center Of The Heart marks the first time that Najee has recorded with Grammy nominated vocalist Kenny Lattimore. “Kenny and I started our careers around same time and never did a record together even though we have been around the world together. We first met in 1998 when we both performed at Nelson Mandela’s Gift To the Nation concert in Johannesburg and Durban.” It is undeniable that Najee and Lattimore both get “Better” with time. The laid-back and in-the-pocket flow of “The Way She Moves” features Najee’s bluesy tenor while the soulful “One Note Love” is a family affair. The latter features Najee’s son, rapper Superb Clawson and his granddaughter is also heard on the track. The banger “Speak Love!” will have you confessing your love over the way Najee rides danceable grooves and elevates the mood with his joyful orchestration and jubilant melodic anthems. The album’s title track was co-written by and features bassist Blair Bryant, who has collaborated with Stanley Clark, Eric Roberson and Bernie Williams among others. The euphoric and hypnotic feel good track is an album highlight. Center Of The Heart Najee closes with “Tonight We Say Goodbye.” This bittersweet parting is a reminder of why we keep coming back for more.
"Center of the Heart is a welcome addition to the Najee catalog, aptly displaying his consistency as a purveyor of well-rounded contemporary jazz proficient in pleasing melodies, stimulating rhythms, and solidly founded arrangements. Recommended." (Justin Kantor, soultracks.com)
"On Center of the Heart Najee can fully rely on the compositional qualities of his fellow players or musical ancestors, which gives him the opportunity to showcase his passionate perfection as performer. Najee pulls the right trigger to satisfy his fans captivating their minds and bodies." (smooth-jazz.de)
“Najee delivers light, romantic melodies… and tells meaningful emotional stories with complex, thoughtful improvisations.” (The Los Angeles Times)
Najee, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Kenny Lattimore, vocals
Greg Manning, piano
Darren Rahn, saxophones
Demonte Posey, keyboards
Blair Bryant, bass
Eric Valentine, drums
The magical melodies and passionate phrasings that introduced a generation of music lovers to the distinct sound of the phenomenal reedsmith Najee, will once again serenade listeners with his latest offering, Morning Tenderness, for Verve Forecast. A musical masterpiece of smooth and sensuous selections, Morning Tenderness marks a triumphant return for the best selling instrumentalist to the contemporary jazz musical forefront. "To me, this album is a return to my audience," Najee exclaims. "My last record, musically, was a departure for me. This is a return to traditional Najee." Traditional Najee, as displayed on Morning Tenderness, embodies the musical landscape and showcases the pure artistry that established Najee at the top of the new adult contemporary, R&B, and jazz marketplaces over the past twelve years. With his career already filled with distinguished achievements, Najee again takes center stage with a remarkable collection of nine original compositions and one remarkable cover. "I think more than anything, Morning Tenderness is really me. I went through a lot of personal experiences over the last three years and have become more introspective with my writing." A truely personal statement, Morning Tenderness touches upon everything from love to the familiar aspects of daily life.
The album was recorded over an eight month period at both the Ney York and Los Angeles recording studios of Najee and his younger brother and lifelong collaborator Fareed. The ten gorgeous tracks featured on the production are a representation of a man who is in love with life and music. Opening the collection are the sparkling voices of Najee's young sons providing a heartfelt introduction to the song, "Not a Day Goes By". Najee reflects, "It's a song that says to my children, 'Not a day goes by that I'm not thinking about you, or that you're not in my heart'." Taking a popular R&B slow jam and making it his own has long been one of Najee's signatures. This time around, Najee gives Joe's "All the Things" just the touch of silky soul it deserves. Najee's instrumentalization of this sexy clasic brings it to a class all it's own. "I've always liked that song and the way Joe sang it," Najee says. "No one had covered it instrumentally, and it was a song that I found challenging to play and make my own."
With "Morning Tenderness", Najee got some help from Fareed naming what would become the title track. Reflects Najee, "I came up with that song along with a friend of mine named Nick Smith, and I kept hearing 'Morning Drive' or 'Morning something' in my head, and my brother said, 'Why don't we call it "Morning Tenderness"?' And I thought about it. The song represents just waking up in the morning with the sun rising, and being refreshed. That's what I want people to think of when they hear the album. I play mostly flute on that particular song and I think it stands apart from all the rest. It's definitive."
Also joining Najee on Morning Tenderness are a host of veteran and up-and-comming talents, including Motown recording diva Miss Jones, acclaimed vocalist Audrey Wheeler, and new discovery Ty Causey. On the easy-flowing and enchanting "Indian Summer", Regis Bransen's richly textured vocals float on Najee's bed of reed playing. Najee also co-produced the entire collection, in addition to composing most of the album. Morning Tenderness is Najee's seventh musical offering and follows a slew of critically acclaimed, top selling records including his 1987 debut, Najee's Theme, and most recently, the critically acclaimed Stevie Wonder tribute, Songs in the Key of Life, produced by jazz luminary George Duke. Over the past ten years, Najee's formidable tallents have afforded him the opportunity to work with an array of musical tallents, including Quincey Jones, Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Freddie Jackson, Jonathan Butler, Stanley Clarke, Paul Jackson, Jr., Phyllis Hyman, Patti LaBelle, The O'Jays, Big Daddy Kane, Bobby Caldwell, and many others.
Raised in the Jamaica section of Queens, Ney York, Najee first began playing as a teenager. "Queens is what probably gave me my life-career, what planted the seed," Najee reflects. "Growing up in this area, there were so many bands with kids who wanted to play music for a living. It was an important part of the community. I think my biggest education came from growing up in that environment."
Najee's new association with Verve Records represents the accomplishment of his longtime goal to release records on his own label. His unique deal marks the formation ot the FAN (Fareed And Najee) Entertainment Group, owned and operated by Najee, Fareed, and manager Barrett LaRoda. States Najee, "We've always wanted the opportunity to utilize my strength in the marketplace to sign new acts and build careers for other new talent. This isn't something we just woke up one day and did - it's the realization of a twenty year dream for us."
Of his newly formed relationship with Verve, Najee states, "Being with Verve has been a great experience for me because theyve been so supportive of what I'm doing." And what Najee has done is create a record that will not only thrill his loyal fans, but also captivate a new generation of listeners with his gorgeous soprano sound and incomparable expressiveness. Morning Tenderness presents Najee at the peak of his soulful musicianship and compositional skills, providing listeners with the most personal glimpse of his most distinct musical personality to date. "Playing and writing music has always been my emotional release," Najee says, "That's the way I give my heart to the people."