NAJEE: Poetry In Motion (Shanachie)


‘Poetry In Motion’ is sax man Najee’s 17th long player and he describes the collection as his homage to two of his musical heroes – Al Jarreau and Prince. However, don’t expect a collection of covers of their songs; rather Najee suggests that it’s all about tone, approach and atmosphere –the only obvious, overt homage being the cut, ‘We’ll Be Missing You’. The title of the song explains what it’s all about and the rather predictable lyric is vocalised by Will Downing – a man enjoying something of a soul renaissance right now. His is a lovely soul, reassuring voice and predictable or not, it’s a good smooth soul/jazz cut – and a proper duet…Will’s voice duelling, as it were, with Najee’s soprano sax.

The other vocal guests on the album are Eric Roberson and Maysa. Erro brings his talent to bear on ‘Is It The Way’ – a pleasing smooth soul shuffle, while Ms Leak treats us to ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’- more smooth jazz than searing soul but that lady’s voice is a always a winner!

Maysa, despite a stellar solo catalogue, is often mentioned in the same context as Incognito and – what a coincidence – the Incognito team (well Bluey, anyway) is an album guest too. He features on the LP’s best instrumental track ‘Let’s Take It Back’ This one’s a driving, urgent soul groove that wouldn’t be out of place on any of Incognito’s best albums. It’s good.

Elsewhere? Well expect the usual Najee recipe – smooth jazz at its glossiest and slickest best with our man switching effortlessly from alto to tenor to soprano to flute as the lead instrument. Defining track is the ultra smooth, soul-based groove ‘Song For The Ladies’. Helping Najee on various cuts are top, top piano man Bobby Lyle, and guitarist Blake Aaron but it’s Najee’s show and if you’re a believer (and many are) you’ll love this.

(BB) 3/5