I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Puppets: The Music of Gregg Hill and it’s cool and relaxing yet instrumentally stirring. Opening with Andy’s Lament, vocalist Aubrey Johnson leads the way with easy Brazilian style scat. Randy Napoleon takes the lead and runs with a really solid Kenny Burrell style fluid lead improvisation and chord display. Bassist, Rodney Whitaker gets the second lead and lays in a really nice solo of his own before the circle back to Johnson, backed by Quincy Davis on drums. Very nice opener. Pianist, Rick Roe sets the stage on Lyrica, another track with a loose, Brazilian feel and featuring the vocal work of Lament and really showcasing the tight drumming of Davis. Napoleon’s lyric lead style on guitar is likely the root of the track title with it’s free flowing melody continued by Roe on piano. Still Life of a Tuba is one of my favorite tracks on the release with it’s casual bop styling. Roe takes a really expressive solo giving the track real meat. Wrapping the release is Bossa style Wide River featuring Johnson and Napoleon on a light pop jazz track. With it’s sweet melody and solid delivery, the certain radio track of the release and a solid closer.
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