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Randy Napoleon

Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1977, Randy Napoleon was interested in jazz from childhood, due to his parents Greg and Davi, avid jazz listeners and supporters. The family moved to Ann Arbor, MI, and at age 13 Napoleon won a soloists award at the Heritage Jazz Competition in nearby Ypsilanti, sponsored by radio station WEMU-FM. From there it was music studies at Pioneer High School, where he played in their jazz big band directed by trumpeter and educator Louis Smith. Upon graduation from high school, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, participating in their then burgeoning jazz studies curriculum, obtaining a B.F.A. in Music. His career was fortified after moving back to New York City in 1999, when he joined pianist Benny Green's trio and started taking private lessons with ex-Michiganian Randy Johnston. Napoleon's connection to John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton dated back to his college days, when Jeff Hamilton heard him perform with the University of Michigan Big Band, and he joined the Los Angeles-based orchestra for recording and touring opportunities, particularly Europe and Japan with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. This group was named by readers of Down Beat magazine as Best Jazz Big Band in 2003. In the fall of 2004, he began a three-year stint with Canadian pop-jazz vocalist Michael Bublé, playing concerts and making numerous television appearances worldwide. He then left Bublé to join vocalist Freddy Cole's backup band. Napoleon has also played with fellow metro Detroiters Rodney Whitaker and Rick Roe, and cabaret singers Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano. He has formed partnerships with some of the finest musicians of his own generation, peers Josh Brown, Gerald Clayton, Julius Tolentino, and Sachal Vasandani, as well as veterans Houston Person and Grady Tate. When time allows, he leads his own trio with organist Jared Gold and drummer Quincy Davis, or Benny Green and bassist David Wong. Favorably compared to Wes Montgomery, 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. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi
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