Michael Doherty’s Music Log reviews Randy Napoleon: Puppets: The Music Of Gregg Hill

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Randy Napoleon Group Shot

Michael Doherty’s Music Log

by Michael Doherty

Randy Napoleon: Puppets: The Music Of Gregg Hill Review

Randy Napoleon - Puppets

Randy Napoleon: “Puppets: The Music Of Gregg Hill” – This is an interesting album, presenting musical depictions of puppets, composed by Gregg Hill and arranged by guitarist Randy Napoleon, with vocal work by Aubrey Johnson. The album opens with “Andy’s Lament,” which features some sweet vocal work as it begins, before settling into a cool groove. Then it is Randy Napoleon’s guitar that takes focus, with Rodney Whitaker’s groovy bass work supporting him. Whitaker then delivers an excellent lead in the track’s second half. Then “Fan-O-Gram” begins with a short drum solo. This track features Will Crandell on drums, and Brandon Rose on bass. It moves at a good pace, with Randy Napoleon’s guitar seeming to dance. Rick Roe also delivers a wonderful lead on piano, and there is a longer drum solo toward the end, which I love.

“Lyrica” has an easygoing vibe, like a nice summer breeze, and features some really nice work by Quincy Davis on drums, as well as a great lead on guitar. “Puppets,” the album’s title track, features lyrics written by Randy Napoleon. Here is a taste: “Watch them dance like puppets on a string/Hypnotized by their own suffering/They think they’re warriors/Not merely puppets/They think their thoughts are free/Not pulled by strings.” Those are some good lyrics. I wonder what people he had in mind while writing those lines. For me, the people who took part in the insurrection on January 6th leap to mind. This track also features a seriously good lead on bass, as well as more great work on guitar.

Then I love the way “Still Life With Tuba” builds, particularly the journey the guitar takes us on in the track’s first half, while the rhythm creates an exciting atmosphere. “The Unknown Ballade” also contains lyrics by Randy Napoleon, as well as some nice work by Seth Ebersole on bass clarinet. “Is it real or just illusion?” Aubrey Johnson asks in this one. Gregg Hill wrote the lyrics for “Truck Driver’s Blues,” which has a very different feel from the rest of the tracks, this one dipping into the country realm. Aubrey Johnson delivers a wonderful vocal performance. The disc then concludes with “Wide River,” presented as a duet with guitar and vocals, the lyrics composed by Randy Napoleon. “No fears or cares can stop this wide river/Headed to the sea.” This album was released on May 20, 2022.

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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