With the release on April 2, 2012 of The Jukebox Crowd (Gut String Records GSR008), acclaimed jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon adds a swinging third recording to his impressive 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 that include the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Josh Brown, Jared Gold, and Paul Keller.
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 guitarist tours with his own sextet in addition to working with Cole. He has toured globally with Benny Green, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO), and Bublé, with whom he appeared 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.