Randy Napoleon

On Sunday, I couldn’t miss the appearance of home-town hero, guitarist Randy Napoleon, who studied with the late Louis Smith in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. After years touring with Michael Bublé and Freddie Cole, Napoleon has settled in Michigan on the faculty at Michigan State University. Two of his MSU colleagues, pianist Xavier Davis and bassist Rodney Whitaker, joined him while Keith Hall, on faculty at Western Michigan University, completed the quartet on drums.

A personal highlight: the group’s precision and passion on great Grant Green tunes “Sunday Morning,” Jean De Fleur” and “Grant’s Tune.” Like Grant Green, one can pay Napoleon the highest compliment: no unnecessary motion or notes. Napoleon’s swing and groove has grace, ease, elegance and loads of soul.