Home » Jazz Musicians » Randy Napoleon

Randy Napoleon

Guitarist Randy Napoleon is a performer, arranger, composer and a professor of jazz at Michigan State University. He toured with Freddy Cole for 13 years, and has also toured with Benny Green, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and Michael Buble.

Napoleon arranged Cole’s last albums, including Cole's Grammy-nominated 2010 release, Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B. He composes and arranges for his own bands, an organ trio, a quartet with piano, and a three-horn sextet that includes organ, drums, trumpet, tenor sax and trombone.

He has appeared on television nationally and internationally with Cole, Buble and CHJO on shows that include David Letterman, Jay Leno, The View, The Today Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Regis and Kelly, Dancing with the Stars, the Radio Music Awards and Entertainment Tonight.

Other artists who have invited Napoleon to join them on stage include include Rodney Whitaker, Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano, Monty Alexander, Rene Marie and Bill Charlap. He recorded an album of duets with Comstock,"Bitter/Sweet"


Randy Napoleon endorses Stadler Guitars and D'Addario Strings.


"In the instrumental interludes, the [Freddy Cole] quartet plays swinging mainstream jazz that is always accessible and interesting. Napoleon has been with the group only a few months, but has already become an important part of what they provide musically...Cole stepped away from the piano for Luiz Bonfá's Morning of the Carnival, with some superb guitar work from Napoleon, who was simply sensational throughout the evening... " Joe Lang, Jazz Improv NY

"Napoleon plays with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation, and his improvisations are true narratives, a collection of shapely melodies rather than a series of prepackaged licks." Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

Read more

Primary Instrument



Randy Napoleon studied at the University of Michigan School of Music and has learned from mentors including Freddy Cole, Benny Green, Rodney Whitaker, John Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton. He currently is an associate professor in the College of Music at Michigan State University. He gives private lessons and offers clinics for colleges and conservatories. Hours and location vary, since he is on the road most of the time. Check Randy Napoleon's website to see when he will be performing in your city and drop him an e-mail to schedule a lesson.


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


OA2 Records


Rust Belt Roots:...

OA2 Records


Common Tones

Detroit Music Factory



Detroit Music Factory


The Jukebox Crowd

Gut String Records


Hit the Road to Dreamland

From: DreamLand
By Randy Napoleon

Andy's Lament

From: Puppets: The Music of Gregg Hill
By Randy Napoleon


From: Rust Belt Roots: Randy Napoleon...
By Randy Napoleon



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.