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Najee lectures at the University of Connecticut

 Digital Record


  • 1989 October 3


Saxophonist and flute player Najee lectured on 10/3/1989 (2015-0002/AC13).

Biographical / Historical

Jerome Najee Rasheed was born November 4, 1957, in New York City anad lived his teenage years in Queens, New York.. He is known professionally as Najee.

Najee's musical pursuits began in grade school at age eight, where he began playing the clarinet, but he had a deep desire to play saxophone. He was influenced at this age by listening to his mother's recordings of Miles Davis and other legendary American jazz artists. A pivotal moment in his life came when he made the decision to become a professional jazz musician. In high school, Najee began to study jazz as a student at the Jazzmobile program (co-founded by Dr. Billy Taylor) where he honed his skills on tenor saxophone and flute under the direction of Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster and Ernie Wilkins. At age 16, Najee studied flute at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, where he took lessons with Harold Jones, flautist from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Najee draws his inspiration from saxophonists John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef, Joe Henderson, Grover Washington Jr., Ronnie Laws as well as flautists Hubert Laws and James Galway. Najee began his career as a teenager performing in local bands in the New York City area. After high school, Najee's first world tour was with a band from New York City called “Area Code”.

The band spent two years performing on military bases in Europe, Iceland, Greenland, Central America, Caribbean, and the United States on behalf of the USO . Upon his return from the USO World Tour, Najee went on the road in the summer of 1978 with legendary vocalist Ben E. King (Stand By Me). After touring with Ben E. King, Najee and his brother, Fareed, attended New York City's Bronx Community College for two semesters. Both were music majors under the tutelage of Valerie Capers. The following year both brothers auditioned and were admitted to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Najee was a performance and composition major. He also studied with legendary Joe Allard (1st clarinetist for Toscanini). At the Conservatory Najee studied and performed with George Russell and Jaki Byard big bands.

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. 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. In 1990, Tokyo Blue was released. This album 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 released his next album, Just an Illusion. In 1994, Najee toured and was featured on the live recording Live at The Greek. 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. 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 and he once again toured on behalf of the USO for the troops in the Mediterranean.

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 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. Najee's second release with Shanachie in 2013, The Morning After - A Musical Love Journey, earned him an NAACP Image Award Nomination for "Outstanding Jazz Album" (2014) and a Soul Train Awards Nomination for "Best Contemporary Jazz Performance" (2014). Najee released his third album with Shanachie, You, Me, and Forever, on June 23, 2015.

Najee has performed and recorded with vocalists including: Chaka Khan, Freddie Jackson, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Prince, Patti Labelle, Phyllis Hyman, 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.



1 Cassettes (audio cassette tape recording) : AC 13 1 cassette, Side A-0:47:05, Side B-0:08:23. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 0:55:24.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US