Growing up in Queens, New York, percussionist Steven Kroon soaked up the sounds of the Latin, jazz and R&B music permeating his neighborhood. The influence of such a diverse musical environment helped shape his personalized style, catching the attention of big-name pop and jazz artists like Luther Vandross and Ron Carter. Along with being a first-call percussion sideman, Kroon is also an engaging bandleader, as evidenced by his third solo release: El Mas Alla (Beyond), a polished Latin-jazz production with top-notch arrangements performed by a group of seasoned New York veterans.
The catchy Kroon composition "Bo Bo's Blues" opens the session with an absorbing Latin-jazz vibe reminiscent of classic recordings by Cal Tjader. The groovy 12-bar jam features in-the-pocket soloing by pianist Igor Atalita, vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, flautist Craig Rivers and tenor saxophonist Roger Byam. Carrot, Rivers and Byam are the main soloists throughout the disc, in-sync with Kroon's soulful, listener-friendly concept. Guest appearances by vocalist Freddy Cole ("I Wish You Love"), violinist Regina Carter ("Superwoman/Where Were You") and saxophonist Steve Wilson ("Don Ramon") add extra flair to the proceedings.
Kroon's rhythm section mates are all adept purveyors of the Afro-Cuban musical dialect. Pianist Oscar Hernandez lights up the keys on his own composition "Precious One," a funky cha-cha-cha. Bassist Ruben Rodriguez holds down the bottom end with a punchy drive, and solos convincingly on the Jaco Pastorius classic "Used to Be a Cha-Cha." Drummers Vince Cherico and Diego Lopez take turns on the trap-kit, matching Kroon's fiery style.
All around exceptional performances, coupled with a well-programmed mix of originals and covers, makes El Mas Alla (Beyond) a highly entertaining listen.
Track Listing: Bo Bo's Blues; Matana; Precious One; Brazilian Sugar; I Wish You Love; Used To Be A Cha-Cha; Steppin;
Superwoman/Where Were You; Don Ramon; Minha Saudade.
Personnel: Steven Kroon: percussion; Igor Atalita: piano; Oscar Hernandez: piano; John Di Martino: piano; Bryan Carrott:
vibraphone; Craig Rivers: flute; Roger Byam: tenor saxophone; Steve Wilson: soprano saxophone; Ruben
Rodriguez: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Diego Lopez: drums; Regina Carter: violin (8); Freddy Cole: vocals (5).
Year Released: 2008
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Latin/World
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!