Berks Jazz Fest 2013: Najee & Alex Bugnon

At 10pm saxophonist Najee with special guest Alex Bugnon on piano appeared at the Crowne Plaza Hotel ballroom, the set was opened with an explosive version of "Can't Hide Love", his young and tight band was kicking ass and Najee soared like an eagle with his soprano saxophone above it all. Like Keiko Matsui, Najee is celebrating 25 years as a solo artist, still going strong. After the first few ultra groovy tracks, Alex Bugnon joined the band with some funky playing on the piano, having the crowd cheer along. Later he played a couple of tracks from an upcoming album, one of them being "Night In Tunisia".

Alex Bugnon and Najee go back a long way, Alex Bugnon was the keyboard player in Najee's band when he toured after the release of his first album, with Alex Bugnon later being signed by Capitol as well. So the bond between those two is strong, which was clearly felt during the concert. Najee is one of my favorite flute players, his sound and technique are just perfect, he did Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" on the flute having the audience sing along. Then they did "All I Ever Ask" which originally featured Freddie Jackson, soulfully sung by guitarist Chuck Johnson who put all his heart into the song. Later Alex Bugnon did "Harlem On My Mind", his tribute to Isaac Hayes, delivering some massive keyboard playing. Najee did "Noah's Ark", one of his classic songs, then Alex Bugnon came back to the stage, doing "A House Is Not A Home", he pulled all the stops and provided one of the highlights of the show. Then they funked it up for the rest of the show, leaving a satisfied crowd after over two hours of great playing.