Known as a forward-thinking musician with a passion for the jazz tradition, guitarist Randy Napoleon is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University. He is currently touring as a leader after twenty years of road apprenticeship with some of the most celebrated musicians and groups of our time.
Napoleon cut his teeth touring with pianist Benny Green, The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Michael Bublé, and a thirteen year tenure with Freddy Cole. He has also performed with artists across the jazz spectrum such as Bill Charlap, Natalie Cole, Monty Alexander, Rodney Whitaker and John Pizzarelli.
Napoleon has performed or arranged on over seventy records. He arranged as well as performed on Freddy Cole’s seven most recent records including the Grammy-nominated releases, Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B and My Mood Is You. He performed on The Clayton Hamilton Orchestra: Live at MCG. Napoleon is featured on Bublé’s Grammy-nominated CD/DVD Caught in the Act.
Napoleon has played on The Tonight Show, Late Night With David Letterman, The View, The Today Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres show as well as TV shows in South America, Europe and Asia. He has performed across the globe at notable venues including Royal Albert Hall, The Sydney Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl, and Lincoln Center.
Guitarist George Benson calls Napoleon “sensational.” Detroit Free Press critic Mark Stryker says Napoleon “plays with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation.” Washington Post critic Mike Joyce praises his “exceptionally nimble finger-style technique.” Comparing him to Wes Montgomery, music critic Michael G. Nastos says, “he displays an even balance of swing, soul, and single-line or chord elements that mark an emerging voice dedicated to tradition and universally accessible jazz values.”
Napoleon has four records as a band leader with a fifth, Common Tones, released Oct 4, 2019 on the Detroit Music Factory label.