Think of New York saxophonist Najee's headlining gig at tonight's Smooth Jazz Holiday as a sort of homecoming. After dismal sales of his 2003 CD, Embrace, he parted ways with his former record company, Warlock, and inked a deal with tiny Heads Up, which is under the umbrella of Cleveland's Telarc. "Due to label circumstances, we didn't get the promotion we should've gotten," he says. "So I toured a lot and stayed busy. Then I [found] my new home for recording."
Najee and his ensemble will offer a set that draws heavily from his ninth and latest album, My Point of View, which came out last year. Najee's 23-year career includes touring stints with Chaka Khan, Freddie Jackson, and Prince. "It's been a great ride," he says. "It's had its successes, and we've had our down points. But there's no feeling like playing in front of live audiences. Music is really universal."
Sat., Sept. 2, 6 p.m.