Composer Gregg Hill grew up in central Michigan in a household where the music was always playing. As a small child, he remembers conga lines snaking through the house on Saturday nights to the sound of jazz. His parents, Norma and Ken, were part of the swing craze in the big band era. His sister Susan, also plays piano and is a lifelong music lover.
In high school, Gregg played sax in a stage band and headed up a quintet. He loved the saxophone, but the piano had a stronger allure as far as creative possibilities. The piano took over completely when he was bitten by the jazz writing bug.
Gregg's parent's love of music and piano jazz (in particular) was a great source of his inspiration.
By Sylvannia Garutch
PUPPETS: "...Cool and relaxing yet instrumentally stirring."
by Joe Ross
...The Puppets album conveys many musical moods. There is tension and release, as well as several expressions of solemnity and whimsy. The diversity in Gregg Hill’s compositions ranges from the smooth tones of the opener “Andy’s Lament” to the high-stepping, energetic “Fan-O-Gram” with Aubrey Johnson serving as an outstanding modern creative stylist with Napoleon’s fluid, tasteful improvisation. Whether the bluesy “The Jazzdiddy Waltz” or relaxed “Lyrica” tickle your fancy, we hear an atmospheric approach to music that results in bountiful rewards of deep emotion and range of expression.
Randy Napoleon is a premier player whose attention to precision, intonation and time values provides bountiful rewards. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Randy cut his teeth on jazz in Detroit, moved to New York City, worked with Michael Buble and Freddy Cole, then in 2014 returned to Michigan as a MSU Professor of Jazz. That is where he met Gregg Hill, and their collaborations began. Together, they are manipulating the songs’ melodies and magical strings much as a puppeteer would with his strings. It’s tight, inventive, expertly played music pulled off with aplomb.
March 9th, 2020 JazzWeek lists "Brothers" Album as "Chartbound"
34) Bassist Rodney Whitaker “Common Ground: The music of Gregg Hill”
#6 Rodney Whitaker-After Shock from the album "Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill" Listen to the full show.
Rodney Whitaker—Common Ground: The msuic of Gregg Hill. "The variety is broad and the band itself can blow up a storm!"
Rodney Whitaker—Common Ground the Music of Gregg Hill.
...unified, collective sensibility is one layer of meaning that filters into the title "Common Ground." You can find another in the nature of the relationship between Whitaker and the composer of the songs, which have the flavor of new discoveries from the 1960s canons of Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane and Eddie Harris. His name is Gregg Hill, 73, an autodidact who started writing music seriously in 1984.
"On Common Ground, he [Rodney Whitaker] has put together an eight-song program of tunes by composer and pianist Gregg Hill, a favorite of his. Among Whitaker's collaborators here are hard bop trumpet kingpin Terrell Stafford and Whitaker's daughter, vocalist Rockelle Fortin. As the cover photo shows, it's a labor of love—several of the songs have an earnest whiff of social and political idealism. Everyone gets to shine, notably Stafford and his frequent collaborator, pianist Bruce Barth."
Outrospectives © 2015
Spontaneity © 2016
Moonducks © 2019
I’m pleased to announce the release of my newest book of 25 original jazz compositions "The Tuning Fork". The Tuning Fork is an interplay, or dance if you will, on any given tune between simple melodies and dissonance. I find that tension to be musically inviting. If I can fit four neighboring tones into a single spread chord, that makes my day. Not to be novel is to be trying to prove something, but to find beauty in dissonance. In my mind, these tones are talking to each other and producing overtones as they converse.
“Puppets” is the second Randy Napoleon/Gregg Hill collaboration. For Randy, choosing a singer seemed like a natural progression for Hills tunes. Aubrey Johnson proved to be the perfect match for the vocal/guitar blended sound. Adding to the inspired musical vision are Rodney Whitaker (bass), Quincy Davis (drums), and Rick Roe (piano), and some fiery intensity on their own. Album guest artists include: Seth Ebersole (bass clarinet & flute), Brandon Rose (bass), and Will Crandell (drums) Early Release April 2022. Origin Records.
Ritmo Patria is the 5th album released from Cold Plunge Records. It melds the sweet sounds of Salsa and Latin jazz with compositions from two striking composers. Cuban-born Michael Eyia brings the flavor of his homeland to the spectacular album. Released December 2021.
Outrospection Hills' second album collaboration with renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker. 11 expressive compositions — The variety is broad and the band itself can blow up a storm! Released April 2021.
The Outrospectives Live! A collaboration with bandleader Elden Kelly (guitar), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), Gayelynn McKinney (drums), Cory Pesaturo (accordion), Tucker Antell (saxophone). December 2020 Release. Cold Plunge Records.
"Brothers" recorded live with four tunes by the Randy Napoleon Quartet, Paul Keller (bass), Randy Gelispie (drums), Rick Roe (piano), and four tunes by the Bill Heid trio, with Paul Keller (bass) and Randy Gelispie (drums). January 2020 release. Cold Plunge Records.
"Portrait of the Artist" The music of Gregg Hill, featuring the Ben Rosenblum Trio. Summer 2020 Release. Cold Plunge Records.
"Dancing Light" The Outropectives perform the music of Gregg Hill. Released May 2019 Cold Plunge Records.