Najee & Friends
Flutist/saxophonist Jerome Najee Rasheed, known simply as “Najee,” was born in 1957 in New York City, where he was inspired by hearing recordings of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus and other great jazz players.
He studied jazz while in high school in Dr. Billy Taylor’s Jazzmobile program, while studying tenor sax and flute privately. At 16, he studied flute with Harold Jones (New York Philharmonic) at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division.
His professional career began on a USO world tour with the band Area Code. He also toured with vocalist Ben E. King, and then he and his brother Fareed studied at the Bronx Community College and the New England Conservatory of Music.
After that, Najee and Fareed toured with vocalist Chaka Khan in 1983.
Najee released his first album, “Najee’s Theme,” in 1986, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Album. He went on to release 18 more albums, the latest of which is “Savoir Faire” (2022).
In 1998, Najee performed at Nelson Mandela's birthday celebration in South Africa, along with Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.
Najee spent 2000 to 2003 touring with Prince and played on Prince's albums “Rainbow Children” and “One Night Alone.”
For the Berks Jazz performance, keyboardist Alex Bugnon, trumpeter Tom Browne, and vocalist Alyson Williams will join Najee.
Berks Arts is a nonprofit organization based in Reading, Pa. whose mission is to Inspire, Engage, and Unite communities through the arts.