Steve Cromity: Steppin' Out (2004)
This is a straight-ahead, crisply swinging session from a talented singer with impeccable diction and an ear for great songs. More often than not, Steve Cromity imbues his performances with easy rhythmic agility.
It is so good to hear pianist Rodney Kendrick (not "Kendricks as the CD booklet and cover note). His work, whether as a leader or as a member of the band, has been highly anticipated since he stood New York on his head when he assumed the chair in Abbey Lincoln's band in the early '90s. Here, given a palette of standards, his work still achieves some of the imaginative, often quirky edge he achieved with Lincoln. Don't miss his Monk on "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise. His is easily the freshest touch on the date. And he never forgets what every accompanist must do to be successful: he offers firm support for Cromity.
The reflective, autumnal mood that singer and band achieve in "You Go to My Head serves the song well. The band plays deep in the groove, especially on the vocal reprise, without overshadowing Cromity. On the outchorus of "Invitation, however, a song criminally ignored by singersthe band does outshine the singer, hitting such a groove that Cromity seems hard pressed to match their élan and precision. This band deserves a recording session of its own where the players can explore a set of songs without constraint.
Some of the repertoire has a Charlie Parker association: "Just Friends, "Star Eyes, and "What's New, for instance. On these and many of the other tunes, saxophonist Eric Wyatt's abandon is contagious. On "Just Friends, he tears it up, creating a sense of freedom that grows from motif to motif, building from chorus to chorus. Bassist Joseph Lepore and drummer Emanuel Harrold provide underpinnings worthy of Bird.
Cromity and Kendrick begin "There Will Never Be Another You as a duo, alluding to the tempo they eventually find. Wyatt starts a fire, patiently building momentum until he can no longer contain his exuberance. This track sums up the best qualities of this sessiongreat songs from the golden era of composition, lovingly sung, backed by a stellar band.
Track Listing: Just Friends; Speak Low; You Go to My Head; Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Star Eyes; What's New; Invitation; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Autumn Leaves; There Will Never Be Another You.
Personnel: Steve Cromity: vocals; Eric Wyatt: tenor: alto and soprano saxophones; Rodney Kendrick: piano; Joseph Lepore: bass; Emanuel Harrold: drums.