The spirit of the late jazz legend George Duke was with multi-instrumentalist Najee during the recording of his latest album, The Morning After: A Musical Love Journey. Duke’s presence was so strong that it inspired Najee to record a song in tribute to his musical mentor titled, “Shinjuku.”
“Shinjuku is an area of Tokyo where George Duke and I stayed when we toured. The groove of the record reminded me of him and I heard his piano playing all over it. It made me reminiscence back to that time. So his spirit was there. I felt him there,” says Najee, who collaborated with some of Duke’s former band members and longtime engineer on the album.
Recalling better days was important since Najee’s most recent memories of Duke included witnessing his failing health. “We played in Detroit earlier this year and I could see he was ill but he didn’t let people know he was. I could tell visibly something wasn’t correct with him and within a month he was gone and that was difficult.”
Najee’s musical tour around the world to places that hold significant meaning to him includes Africa, which is also where the creators of Royal Jelly Harlem found inspiration for their fashion line. Maya and Teta Gorgoni launched the line two years ago after being influenced by their many trips to the continent. This past Wednesday they previewed their Spring/Summer 2014 line at W Hotels in New York City. In addition to women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories, they presented select pieces from the RJHome collection and the debut of JellyBees, a line of children’s wear. If Maya has things her way, African fabric will become more commonplace in the U.S., from the baby stroller to the corporate office. “We take classic silhouettes and mesh it with African fabric to make it wearable for a more Western market. I do it because I want to give everyone else the same pleasure I get when I wear African fabrics,” says Maya.
African art and antiques from around the world were on display at The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSKCC) 25th annual preview party for The International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show.
To read the entire column click here.