Officially inaugurated as a member of the Najee & Friends family back in 2011, RiShon Odell plays bass alongside Najee, saxophone and flute; Chuck Johnson, guitar; Daniel “DP” Powell, drums and Rod Bonner, keys. Odell comes from a family of musicians, but his musical career path hasn’t been typical. He played drums as a kid, but was more interested in basketball, wrestling and football. A few injuries later and his dream of playing college basketball crashed.
A conversation with R&B singer, songwriter Phil Perry nudged Odell along, “He told me to relax and to not think so hard, it’s just music! He’s right.”
His comeback effort in the music business couldn’t have come at a better time – Odell had just received his 30-day notice from Delta Airlines.
“I went from pulling airplanes to playing with Najee in a matter of weeks. I was playing a small gig when I met Daniel “DP” Powell – two weeks later I played my first Najee & Friends show at the Long Beach Jazz Festival. I’ve been the bass player since.”
When he’s not jet setting around the world playing shows, Buffalo is home. Upstate New York is a good place for musicians, Najee was in town to record music at a nearby studio owned by the Goo Goo Dolls. Lil Wayne and Bob Seiger had recently recorded there, Odell called the Goo Goo-studio an updated version of NYC’s legendary Hit Factory.
He listens to Bach and Beethoven in the car and has Evanescence, Rascal Flatts, Douglas Ewart and Lira on his MP3 player. His eclectic, borderline schizophrenic taste in music keeps him inspired and helps him reinvent his style. Najee & Friends played Jazz in the Gardens in 2013, and Odell was hoping to check out Ultra Music Festival after their set, but couldn’t make it happen. From classical to house, and everything in-between, Odell is a fan of well-made music.
“I’m working on a full album and of course it includes Najee. I recently released a single with Elan Trotman called, “Dlna”. I’ve leaned on my Jamaican and African roots for some of the new music I’m making, you’ll hear African drums and reggae rhythm, look for it later this year.”
He’s played shows around the world and it would be easy for him to get trapped by the press on musicians, but he’s poised and walking it up the court. He likes to read books written by his heroes and is focused on making good tunes. As we wrapped up our talk he mentioned there was a big party happening later that day – his son’s low-key sixth birthday party.