Randy Napoleon - Puppets: The Music Of Gregg Hill
Straightahead / Mainstream Jazz
premiera polska: 2023-01-16
kontynent: Ameryka Północna
opakowanie: Gatefoldowe etui
While staying true to his roots as a guitarist deep in gratitude to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, Randy Napoleon aspires to find new routes through the music and refine his already fully evolved voice. On Puppets, he teams with the prolific composer Gregg Hill, finding energy in Hill's quirky, out of the box melodies, and arranging them to keep the spirit of the tunes while amplifying Hill's intentions. He joins with longtime compatriots - three of the hardest swinging and creative voices in jazz, Rick Roe, Rodney Whitaker, and Quincy Davis - and features New York vocalist Aubrey Johnson on several Napoleon-penned lyrics. As his former employer Freddie Cole reminded him often, "It's not only how good you play, it's about how you present the music." Napoleon takes the advice to heart, continually swinging while looking to keep his audience surprised and inspired.
Take Effect (Tom Haugen)
Randy Napoleon sure does put an inimitable spin on the work Gregg Hill, where he employs vocals, many different instruments, and a versatile approach to jazz across these 11 diverse tracks.
"Andy's Lament" starts the listen with warm vocal scatting from Aubrey Johnson, as crisp drumming from Quincy Davis and Napoleon's fluid guitar lines make an indelible impression, and "Fan-O-Gram" follows with a swift and swingin' pace of playful bass from Brandon Rose and skilled drumming from Will Crandell.
Further down the line, "Moonscape" recruits a dreamy quality thanks to Seth Ebersole's proficient bass clarinet and airy flute, while "Puppets" showcases Johnson's sublime pipes amid the cozy textures from Rick Roe's elegant piano and Napoleon's soulful guitar.
"Truck Driver's Blues" arrives near the end, and benefits from Gregg Hill's lyricism as an intimate climate unfolds, and "Wide River" exits the listen with Napoleon's lyrics helping make for a cautious and thoughtful duet that just might be the best selection present.
A lively affair that touches on the blues and soul and bops and waltzes playfully, Napoleon and company sure do justice to Hill's work on this radiant body of work.
Jazz Weekly (George W Harris)
Known as the longtime sideman of Freddie Cole, guitarist Randy Napoleon stretches out a bit on this album with Aubrey Johnson/voc, Rick Roe/p, Rodney Whitaker-Brandon Rose/dr, Quincy Davis-Will Cranderl/dr and Seth Ebersole/wwinds, as he interprets the material of composer Gregg Hill. Johnson mixes wordless tones and lyrics, swinging through "Andy's Lament" and warmth to the sublime "Moonscape". Her lyrics are clear and coy, teamed with the leader on "The Unknown Ballad" and a tasty treat for "Truck Driver's Blues". Napoleon himself is the second coming of Oscar Moore, lithely swinging on "Wide River" and hip as all get out on "Lyrica". Sublime seasonings.
Jazz Guitar Today (Editor)
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.
Jazz Journal (London) (Roger Fabrey)
Apart from his pleasingly accessible playing, redolent of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell, the real secret weapon on the album is the prodigiously talented vocalist Aubrey Johnson. A teacher in the voice department at Berklee College of Music, she made her debut as leader with Unraveled (Outside in Music, 2020), which was received with critical acclaim. Proof, if it were needed, of her virtuosity is evident on the final note of Lyrica, where she hits a spine-tingling high D with surgical precision. The title track, appropriately the strongest tune on the album, is endowed with a hauntingly memorable head. Napoleon's solo here is typical of his excursions throughout, showing him to be a craftsman-like guitarist who plays to fulfil the instrumentalist's role rather than dominate with flashiness or unsuppressed egotism. In short, he is a very fine guitarist indeed. Hill's attractive compositions consolidate Puppets as a thoroughly satisfying album which does not require repeated plays to win the listener over, although repeated plays will be inevitable.
The Jazz Word (Sylvannia Garutch)
Randy Napoleon has returned with a collective effort that is diverse and conveyed with an outstanding ensemble of talented, like-minded performers. The album centers around the music of composer Gregg Hill and is implemented by guitarist Randy Napoleon, vocalist Aubrey Johnson, and a stellar all-star jazz ensemble of Rodney Whitaker on bass, Quincy Davis on drums, and Rick Roe on piano. Special guest include Seth Edbersole on bass clarinet (track 5, 6, 7 & 8) & flute 3, 4 & 5), Brandon Rose on bass (track 2) and Will Crandell on drums (track 2). The album is titled Puppets, The Music Of Gregg Hill .
"Andy's Lament" is a relaxed blues that sets the tone for the album. Johnson and Napoleon blend beautifully during the melody. Napoleon's guitar solo demonstrates his fluid ideas and command of a complex instrument. Also of note is his warm jazz guitar tone and strong influence of the jazz blues vocabulary. Whitaker breaks from creating a steady swinging pulse for the ensemble to perform a melodic bass solo.
"Fanogram" is an energetic bop-style melody showing Johnson's skill as an ensemble instrument and soloist. Guest Crandell (drums) and Rose (bass) join the ensemble on this selection to lay down a hard-swinging feel for the duration. Napoleon's solo skates through the harmony with a flowing eighth note consistency, showing the power of his melodic ideas through the chords. Roe's solo builds too, as he delivers a statement that is lyrical and robust in colors. Johnson's wordless scatting with bop phrasing and articulation adds to the interest of the song.
Puppets, The Music Of Gregg Hill is a beautiful collection of excellent compositions that are vehicles for this top-shelf ensemble to explore and create upon. Each composition has a balance of lyricism and appealing harmonic twists and turns. Napoleon is a gifted guitarist who shines brightly throughout the album, as does Johnson.
Randy Napoleon - Guitar
Aubrey Johnson - Vocals
Seth Ebersole - Bass clarinet (5,6,7,8), Flute (3,4,5)
Rick Roe - Piano
Rodney Whitaker - Bass
Quincy Davis - Drums
Brandon Rose - bass (2)
Will Crandell - drums (2)
1. Andy's Lament 5:19
2. Fan-O-Gram 5:54
3. The Jazzdiddy Waltz 4:19
4. Lyrica 7:10
5. Moonscape 7:03
6. Puppets 7:28
7. Still Life with Tuba 6:28
8. The Unknown Ballade 6:20
9. Tone Colors 6:40
10. Truck Driver's Blues 3:33
11. Wide River 3:16
nagrano: Recorded, mixed & mastered by Corey De Rushia at Troubadour Recording Studios, Lansing, Mi. On June 28-29, 2021
more info: www.originarts.com
- OA2 Records
- Randy Napoleon
- Puppets: The Music Of Gregg Hill
- Data premiery