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Steven Kroon: On The #1

Dan Bilawsky By

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Steven Kroon has long been a first-call percussionist for the musical elite, adding seasonings and spices to the variety of R&B, jazz, and soul dishes that these bigwigs make. He's worked behind Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, Diana Krall, Stanley Turrentine, and numerous others over the past three-plus decades.

Many will forever think of Kroon as a support player of note, but more and more listeners are starting to know him as a leader. He's increasingly focused on his own work since the turn of the century, releasing four polished leader dates prior to this one. And while his sideman work often marks him as a masterful player in various straight-ahead settings, he's used his own group(s) to highlight his love of Latin jazz. Rumba, mambo, bomba, bossa nova, and samba all come into focus at various times during this upbeat-and-invigorating program.

There's a tight-and-slick element surrounding the bottom-end of these pieces, but a light-and-gay quality often comes through on the melodic end of the spectrum. Joyful sounds ("On The One"), a gentle flow ("As Time Goes By"), and sly suggestions ("Camel Rise") all rise to the surface at various moments during this outing.

Some bandleaders are believers in shaking up the personnel list from record to record, but Kroon isn't one of them. The core players on On The #1 have all appeared on record with Kroon in the past. These musicians—vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, pianist Igor Atalita, flautist Craig Rivers, and drummer Vince Cherico—bring a sense of controlled excitement to these performances. Saxophonist Tim Ries, best known for his globetrotting exploits with The Rolling Stones, is a featured guest, playing with gusto in a few places, and percussionist James Shipp enlivens "Dust Till Dawn" with his pandeiro work.

On The #1 takes its name from Kroon's signature sign-off phrase, referencing the idea of "being right on point" and "focused." It was a wise title choice, as it's the perfect way to describe this music.

Track Listing: On The One; Roots; I Know You Do; Phantom Of The Island; As Time Goes By; Dust Till Dawn; When There Is Love; Camel Rise; Touch.

Personnel: Steven Kroon: congas, percussion; Igor Atalita: keyboards; Bryan Carrott: vibraphone; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Craig Rivers: flute; Vince Cherico: drums; Tim Ries: saxophone.

Title: On The #1 | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Kroonatune

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