...one of the truly premier players on his instrument anywhere. His dexterity, fluid ideas and command of a tricky instrument must be recognized as top drawer.
Guitarist Randy Napoleon soars on this new collection of tunes by the prolific jazz composer Gregg Hill. The core of his ongoing band intact, their freedom to expand boundaries, surprise, or just lock into an unassailable swing is readily available to enjoy. In 2014, after more than a decade in New York City, and traveling the world with Freddie Cole, Michael Bublé and others, he found himself in the middle of the thriving jazz center that Lansing, Michigan had become since bassist Rodney Whitaker's arrival almost 25 years ago. Along with his bandmates, pianist Rick Roe, Whitaker, and drummer Quincy Davis, composer Gregg Hill has added an energized compositional voice to the scene, enticing Napoleon, Whitaker, Michael Dease, and others into inspired collaborations. Here, Napoleon is free to stretch, bend and expand on Hill's central themes, and the musical rapport he shares with visiting NY vocalist Aubrey Johnson over his last two albums has added a whole new dimension to his repertoire that will undoubtedly also seep into Hill's future works.
"...Johnson's often wordless vocalastics turn many of these songs into elliptical, unpredictable magical offerings that open out gloriously in dramatic episodes..."
Jazz Da Gama
1 The Lost Tune 7:34
2 The Door is Open 6:28
3 Escape to Cat Island 5:01
4 Motel Blues 5:52
5 Spa-Teneity 6:20
6 April Song 7:35
7 The Last Pop Tune 4:45
8 Skyline 5:34
9 Triple Play 4:10
All music composed by Gregg Hill
Arranged by Randy Napoleon
(1) Lyrics by Randy Napoleon & Aubrey Johnson
(4,8) Lyrics by Randy Napoleon
Randy Napoleon - guitar
Aubrey Johnson - voice
Rick Roe - piano
Rodney Whitaker - bass (2,3,6,8,9)
Lucas Lafave - bass (1,4,5,7)
Quincy Davis - drums
Anthony Stanco - trumpet (2,3,4,8,9)
Walter Blanding - tenor saxophone (2,3,4,8,9)
Andrew Kim - trombone (2,3,4,8,9)
Produced by Gregg Hill & Randy Napoleon
Recorded at Troubadour Recording Studios
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Corey DeRushia
Recorded June 27 & 28th, 2023
Cover painting by Fay Kleinman
Photography and design concept by Lynne Brown
Cover design & layout by John Bishop
Jazz Weekly (George W Harris)
Best known for his work with the late Freddie Cole, guitarist Randy Napoleon has created a sound and style for himself by eschewing jazz standards and, for the second time, has delved into the songbook of composer Gregg Hill. The genius of this idea is that Hill's material is clever enough to pique the ears of jazz fans, but accessible enough to en ...
All About Jazz (Paul Rauch)
4-STARS In and around the formidable jazz studies program at Michigan State University is a plethora of jazz talent devoted to instrumental and compositional excellence. Most of this talent is young, benefiting from a wide array of world-class instructors that includes program director Rodney Whitaker and veteran guitarist Randy Napoleon, among ot ...
Paris Move (Thierry De Clemensat)
Guitarist Randy Napoleon, originally from Michigan, who migrated to New York in 1999, is not the only artist interested in Gregg Hill's compositions. It has become increasingly common in recent years for an album to pay tribute to this composer, with the important point to note being the unique perspective that each musician brings to Gregg Hill's ...
The Jazz Word (Nolan DeBuke)
Randy Napoleon has brought another excellent album to the verdant landscape of today's jazz, The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill. The nine-song set emerges like a meticulously cultivated garden, with each of Hill's compositions blossoming under the care of Randy Napoleon and his ensemble of virtuosic musicians. This album, released by OA2 Rec ...