A musical depiction of puppets in 2022 is conjured up by Mid-Michigan composer Gregg Hill, and executed by guitarist Randy Napoleon, vocalist Aubrey Johnson, and a stellar all-star jazz ensemble.It is Randy's effort to continue his rise, in my opinion, as 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. He and Gregg are pulling the musical strings of these puppets.
Gregg Hill's music has been documented by bands led by bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist Elden Kelly, drummer GayeLynn McKinney and others. This recording shows more of the breadth and depth of Hill's compositions than previous efforts, and adds a vocal element, more expansive charts with different instruments, not to mention the stellar musicianship. Known for his love of Latin Jazz, this recording is a departure for Hill's previous mindset.
The music of this collective effort is remarkably consistent, yet diverse. The opener "Andy's Lament" is a sweet tone setter, only a brief foray into this program, a taste if you will. "Fan-O-Gram" is really the booster, a shot of fuel for the energy of the band with hot bop. Will Crandell (drums) and Brandon Rose (bass) fill in on this one. Aubrey's wordless scatting alongside the guitar lines combines with a wondrous solo from Randy.