Randy Napoleon and Melissa Morgan Duo
Time & Location
About the Event
TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.
Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Philanthropic Services provided by grants from the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust, The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County's ArtsEverywhere initiative, and the Arts Project Support Grant and Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.
You have to check out this voice. It is interesting. It is sassy. It is sexy.", says producer John Clayton. Brought up in the jazz clubs of New York City, Melissa Morgan has a voice that is unexpected. From the exterior you would assume a sultry lounge singer, which does make an appearance once and awhile, but from inside she contains a powerful instrument. "Prepare to fall in love" (Bay Area Reporter), and fall in love you do. On stage she bares everything and makes you laugh while doing it. While belting a blues or tenderly massaging a ballad, she has come a long way from her appearance at the 2004 Thelonious Monk Competition. In 2009, Melissa released her debut album on Telarc Records, "Until I Met You" to enthusiastic reviews and was embraced by the jazz community as "the one we've been waiting for" (Dr. Herb Wong, jazz critic and historian). Downbeat Magazine included her on their 2009 Rising Star List and JazzTimes has named her "audacious and decidedly salty". With her new album close to completion, she has gathered together her dearest friends to tell her story of the last five years, growing in the business and as a musician. While you will always hear definitive influences from Nancy Wilson, Dinah Washington and Billie Holliday, "Melissa isn't copying anybody" (London Evening Standard) and most certainly has a definitive sound all her own.
Randy Napoleon (born 30 May 1978) is an American jazz guitarist, composer, and arranger who tours nationally and internationally. He has also toured with the Freddy Cole Quartet, Benny Green (pianist), the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra led by John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton, Rene Marie, and with Michael Bublé. He is an associate professor in the College of Music at Michigan State University and has done master classes at universities and music schools throughout the United States and Canada.
More About Melissa:
Morgan was born in New York City, and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, where she attended Teaneck High School. She began studying piano at age four. During high school she began singing with local choirs and was soon performing with vocal groups across the country and abroad. A highlight of her choir experience was a seven-country tour of Europe in 1996 with the U.S. Youth Chorale. As a student she was recognized with numerous awards, including three gold cups in the New Jersey Federation of Music solo piano competition, top ranking in the New Jersey all-state choir, and runner up for the New Jersey Governor's award for vocal music.
In 1998, Morgan entered SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and studied with Yolande Bavan of jazz vocal group, Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan, Jon Faddis, Mark Murphy and Roseanna Vitro. While attending Purchase, she appeared with the conservatory's jazz and Latin jazz orchestras and was featured vocalist with the Purchase Jazz Band during a tour of Spain in 1999. In May 2002, she received a degree in jazz vocal performance.
Since graduating from Purchase, Morgan has been a regular performer at some of New York's top jazz room such as Cleopatra's Needle, Flute, G Bar, Smalls, Smoke and St. Nick's Pub. She has appeared with her own trio as well as other artists including Harold Mabern, David Hazeltine, and Sam Yahel. In 2001 she was featured in performances with Jon Faddis and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars at the Blue Note in New York. She performed at the New York Women of Jazz Festival in 2002 at Smoke jazz club, and that same year was a guest on the TV program Where to Hear Jazz in New York City.
In September 2004, Morgan was named a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in Washington D.C., hosted by Billy Dee Williams and Herbie Hancock. Judges for the competition were Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling, Jimmy Scott, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Flora Purim.
More About Randy:
Napoleon was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 30, 1978. He is the son of Greg Napoleon, a software engineer, and Davi Napoleon, a theater historian and arts journalist, and the grandson of Jack Skurnick, a musicologist and founder of EMS Recordings, and Fay Kleinman, a painter. He has one younger brother, Brian Napoleon. His family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, when he was two years old. He studied violin in the Ann Arbor schools before discovering the guitar.
One of Napoleon's formative experiences was in a big band at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, led by trumpeter Louis Smith. Napoleon also played at the jazz clubs in Ann Arbor and learned from jam sessions at the Bird of Paradise Club. Early opportunities at the Del Rio, a local bar, and at events sponsored by WEMU, a local NPR jazz radio station, helped start his career. When he was in high school, the Ann Arbor News covered his developing talent. Napoleon studied at the University of Michigan School of Music.
Later life and career.
Napoleon has led an organ trio which has toured the United States and United King dom and which did a concert for BBC radio. The trio appears on Enjoy the Moment and Randy Napoleon: Between Friends, both featuring Jared Gold (organist) and drummer Quincy Davis. Between Friends, a 2006 release from Azica Records, features the trio on half the tracks and a quartet on the other, with Davis, bassist David Wong, and Benny Green on piano. The Randy Napoleon three-horn sextet appears on his 2012 album The Jukebox Crowd. A trio with Rodney Whitaker on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums appears on his album for the Detroit Music Factory, Soon.
Napoleon has performed and arranged on all of Freddy Cole's albums since 2009. He has appeared on TV with Cole, on a 2007 PBS special, and on the 2009 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Napoleon has appeared on Grammy-nominated albums, including Michael Buble: Caught in the Act, Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B, and Freddy Cole: My Mood is You. He arranged music for the two Cole albums.
Napoleon has also toured with Benny Green (2000–2001), Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (2003–2004), and Michael Bublé (2004–2007). He has appeared on TV in Japan with CHJO and throughout Europe, Asia and America with Bublé. His U.S. TV appearances with Bublé 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, Entertainment Tonight, and a PBS special, Caught in the Act. Napoleon has performed with Monty Alexander, Bill Charlap, Michael Dease, Rene Marie, and Rodney Whitaker. He has appeared with cabaret performers Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano. Napoleon has performed at Lincoln Center, Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, Radio City Music Hall, Royal Albert Hall in London, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Napoleon moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1999. He returned to Michigan to teach at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance from 2013 to 2014. In the fall of 2014, he accepted an appointment to Michigan State University's College of Music where he is currently a tenured associate professor of jazz. There, he performs with the MSU Professors of jazz, teaches jazz guitar, and leads a student octet. He has taught master classes and clinics at many colleges including Bucknell University, Temple University, Humber College, and Oakland University.
He married Alison Rogers Napoleon in 2010. They have two children, Jack Lawrence (2013) and Juliet Claire (2017).