PRESS

PRESS QUOTES

12From his bluesy “Everybody Has Soul” to inventive remakes of Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows,” “I’m in the Mood for Love” (done as a crackling uptempo burner) and “Fools Rush In” (here a bossa nova), Napoleon delivers a warm, clean tone on his Stadler hollowbody guitar with deliberate, languid phrasing that is understated yet eminently swinging.
Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times

“Guitarist Randy Napoleon’s lyrical solo lines strike a sweet spot between virtuosity and emotion.”
New Jersey Star-Ledger, Tim Wilkins

“His melodic lines are clean and uncomplicated. He shows a sensitivity for song rather than a desire to show off.”
Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Napoleon plays with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation, and his improvisations are true narratives, a collection of shapely melodies rather than a series of prepackaged licks.”
Mark Stryker, The Detroit Free Press

“Randy Napoleon’s golden-toned guitar lines carry Cole or frame him in all the right places.”
Kirk Silshee, Down Beat Magazine

“Napoleon consistently shows that he is in full command of his instrument without resorting to overindulgent solos like many young players…Napoleon’s tasty, spacious interpretation of the magical ballad “A Time For Love” is yet another highlight…The subtle opener, “Face the Truth,” is a conversational piece that might appeal to a singer if it only had a lyric.”
Ken Dryden, Allmusic

“His guitar lines are soulful and smart.”
Marc S. Taras, Current Magazine

“Guitarist Napoleon, fresh-faced and youthful, solos finger-style, mixing complexity with swing, echoing his heros, Montgomery and Kessel.”
Peter Vacher, Jazzwise magazine

“Cole occasionally sang without accompanying himself, relying instead on guitarist Randy Napoleon’s resourcefulness….Napoleon, a young, swing-centric guitarist…was accorded plenty of solo space, revealing an exceptionally nimble finger-style technique.”
Mike Joyce, The Washington Post

“From Randy Napoleon’s boyish appearance one might think he’s just starting out. In fact, he’s one of the more accomplished and well-rounded jazz guitarists of our day. Most know him as a supremely tasteful accompanist to singers such as Michael Bublé, Eric Comstock and Freddy Cole (Nat’s younger brother). But his penchant for bluesy soul-jazz comes through on his latest, The Jukebox Crowd, a sextet affair with Hammond organ and plenty o’ horns. He can also cut it in lean and modern post-bop settings, judging from organist Jared Gold’s 2008 smoker Solids & Stripes.”
David R. Adler, Philadelphia Weekly

“Napoleon arranged 10 of the album’s 12 songs – handling the doubly daunting task of doing justice to Cole’s voice (very similar to his legendary brother, the late Nat “King” Cole) as well as songs associated with Cole’s friend and mentor, Billy Eckstein. The Brooklyn native approaches these chores with the same sensitivity and insight he brings to his guitar playing – from the solo arpeggios that support Cole’s honey-toned vocal on “Tender Is The Night” to the octave runs that follow, as the ensemble joins in to establish a relaxed, swinging groove, before he trades a tasty single-note solo with special guest Houston Person’s tenor sax. For “Cottage For Sale,” the sad tale of a dream cottage now abandoned, Cole asked for a George Shearing feel, and Napoleon cleverly references the optimistic “Folks Who Live On the Hill” in the intro….Throughout, he coaxes a warm but round tone from his Stadler archtop (a 17” Free Verse with floating humbucker) and reveals his biggest influences, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. Others “who swing and have a deep blues feeling” – including Benson, Barney Kessel, Grant Green, and Charlie Christian – are evident on “Jelly, Jelly.” A fitting tribute to them and, of course, to Mr. B.”
Dan Forte, Vintage Guitar

“Napoleon’s light touch got caught up in a whirl of lightning-fast technique. His solos then became the ones to watch for: golden lyricism on “If I Love Again”; sweet, happy variations on “Getting Some Fun Out of Life”; plainspoken, chromatic nostalgia on “Funny How I’ve Stopped Loving You” (on which his bandmates also took some bows, Boyd with beautiful brushwork and Bailey with imaginative eighth-note accents). He outdid himself during the set’s encore with a concise but brilliant submission on “I Was Wrong.”
Michael J. West, All About Jazz

“With hand-in-glove support from his working trio of guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Elias Bailey and drummer Curtis Boyd, Cole cast spells from start to finish….Randy Napoleon, Cole’s principal foil, is an amazing young guitarist. His dovetailings with Cole and high-flying solos earned repeated rounds of applause.”
Chuck Berg, Topeka Capital-Journal

“Napoleon’s unhurried, light touches lace perfectly with Cole’s, whether he’s answering the pianist’s melodies in short phrases or taking the stage with longer improvisations.”
Lois Kapila, The Washington City Paper

“In the instrumental interludes, the Freddy Cole quartet plays swinging mainstream jazz that is always accessible and interesting…with some superb guitar work from Napoleon, who was simply sensational throughout the evening…Napoleon has been with the group only a few months, but has already become an important part of what they provide musically…”
Joe Lang, Jazz Improv NY

“His quartet includes three fabulous players…who play with no unnecessary gestures, no wasted notes…Guitarist Randy Napoleon, a finger-style player with a soft, smooth touch, meshed perfectly with Cole’s piano, whether trading fills or sharing the melody in octaves. When Cole stepped away from the keyboard, Napoleon filled in all the space without missing a trick, delivering thick, chord-rich solos on tunes such as ‘I Will Wait For You.'”
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, The Grand Rapids Press

“The splendid young guitarist, Randy Napoleon, matches Comstock’s moods, now pensive, now joyful. He gets to do some celebrating of his own on the Rodgers and Hart track, while showing a delicacy of feeling on such tracks as “A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square”
Bart Greenberg, NiteLife Exchange.com

“Napoleon at times searches, not for the big fat notes, but the tiniest, trim, lean and bittersweet ones. His heaviness lies not in volume or weight, but in depth of spirit.”
Michael G. Nastos, WEMU radio host

“His quartet includes three fabulous players…who play with no unnecessary gestures, no wasted notes…Guitarist Randy Napoleon, a finger-style player with a soft, smooth touch, meshed perfectly with Cole’s piano, whether trading fills or sharing the melody in octaves. When Cole stepped away from the keyboard, Napoleon filled in all the space without missing a trick, delivering thick, chord-rich solos on tunes such as ‘I Will Wait For You.'”
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, The Grand Rapids Press

“Randy Napoleon has his own trio and is part of the Freddy Cole Quartet, playing the guitar with a subtle finesse and articulation that partners Comstock’s baritone voice and astute understanding of the song’s intent. The two bring additional layers to the arrangements and a singular intimacy to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed,” Napoleon enhancing the Rodgers melody with spare elegance. Vocal and instrument together evoke the dark heartache of Gordon Jenkins’s “Goodbye” and are persuasive with the compelling phrasing in “If I Had You” (Shapiro/Campbell/Connelly), once a hit for the King Cole Trio. Lane and Lerner’s melodic “Too Late Now” hints of a sweet desperation.”
Elizabeth Ahlfors, Cabaret Scenes, April 2011

“Each note hangs, suspended with raindrop clarity from its bough of melody, on up-tempo tunes as well as ballads.”
Lawrence Cosentino, Lansing Michigan’s City Pulse

“His guitar lines are soulful and smart.”
Marc S. Taras, Current Magazine

“Napoleon must be considered in the first rank of modern jazz guitarists.”
Piotr Michalowski, Southeast Michigan Jazz Association