With the release on March 26, 2012 of The Jukebox Crowd (Gut String Records GSR008), acclaimed jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon adds a third recording to his discography.
The album features NapoLeon Leading a three-horn sextet performing originals as well as arrangements of “Fools Rush In,” “God Only Knows,” “I'm in the Mood for Love” and other standards. Joining the guitarist are trumpeter Justin Walter, trombonist Josh Brown, tenor saxophonist Ben Jansson, drummer Quincy Davis and organist Duncan McMillan. Napoleon previously released the albums Between Friends (2006) and Enjoy the Moment (2002).
“Working on arrangements is a really exciting process,” Napoleon says. “There’s a fine line between doing something adventurous and doing something that loses what attracted people to a song in the first place. The trick is to balance familiarity and surprise.” The guitarist, who is currently touring with vocalist-pianist Freddy Cole and arranged most of the music on Cole’s 2010 Grammy-nominated album Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B as well as Cole’s 2011 release Talk To Me, has also recorded with vocalists Michael Bublé, Eric Comstock, and Melissa Morgan, as well as with instrumentalists Josh Brown, Jared Gold, Paul Keller, and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
A native of Ann Arbor, MI, Napoleon enjoys an international profile as a forward-thinking musician with a passion for the jazz guitar tradition. No less an authority than George Benson calls him “spectacular” and Mark Stryker of The Detroit Free Press praised Napoleon’s ability to play "…with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation.” Mike Joyce of The Washington Post cited the guitarist’s "exceptionally nimble finger-style technique” while Jazzwise hailed Napoleon’s “…fresh-faced and youthful, solos finger-style, mixing complexity with swing, echoing his heroes, Montgomery and Kessel."
The New York City-based Napoleon tours with his own sextet in addition to working with Cole. The guitarist has been performing around the world since drummer Jeff Hamilton called in 1999 to invite him to do a series of performances at the Hollywood Bowl with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) and tour globally with the award-winning big band.
Napoleon subsequently spent a year on the road with pianist Benny Green followed by three with Bublé, with whom he appeared not only in concert but also on popular television programs hosted by David Letterman, Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres and Regis and Kelly as well as on The View, The Today Show, the PBS special Caught In The Act, The Radio Music Awards and Dancing With The Stars. He also appeared on television in Tokyo with the CHJO and in several European countries and the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon with Cole.