Percussionist Steve Kroon has lent his remarkable percussive skills to dozens of the most popular pop music, R&B and jazz artists of our time as a key participant on hundreds of recordings and in concert settings around the world. He has returned to his Latin music roots for his fourth CD Without a Doubt (Kroonature Records, LLC) with his band that in includes Igor Atalita on keyboards (and musical director and co-producer of this CD); Bryan Carrott on vibraphones; Ruben Rodriguez on electric bass; Craig Rivers on flute; and Diego Lopez on drums in addition to the leader’s own percussion. A couple of special guest make appearances as well: Bobby Franceschini on saxophones and Carla Cook on a vocal.
Kroon talks about his band and working out the material in clubs prior to recording in the studio. The result is ten lively latin jazz performances (nearly an hour of music) that are crisply played with panache as well as drive. There is plenty toto enjoy from the opening moments of Monterey, with its hot percussion to the more measured grooves of the title track. The performances provide plenty of space for the various players to display their talents. Vibraphonist Carrott displays a nice touch whether providing spare accompaniment for a bass solid on the title track, or take his own solos. Flautist Rivers is outstanding throughout this disc whether displaying a pure tone, or occasionally a more breathy one.
Franceschini’s Sabrosongo, has an interesting opening followed by some outstanding playing by Rivers, and then Carrott mesmerizes while Kroon and Lopez drive things along marvelously. Franceshini himself makes himself forcefully heard here as well. Barry Harris’ Nascimento was written to celebrate the great Brazilian performer with a lovely arrangement from James Shipp as Atalita opens this lively performance up followed by Rivers and then Carrott. The performance displays the ensemble’s tightness, yet facility with a lighter groove. On Zaccai Curtis Mizo (Agua), the two flutes of Franceschini and Rivers provide atmosphere for Carrott’s shimmering vibes with marvelously danceable rhythms.
Carla Cook sings on the interpretation of the Roberta Flack classic recording, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and the arrangement by Hubert Eves III and Kroon provide a fascinating tension with Cook’s lovely vocal and the latin-tinged backing with Eves guesting on piano as Carrott added color and flavor on vibes. The mood contrasts with the heat generated from Bobby Watson’s Pamela where Franceschini is outstanding as Carrott’s vibes in support provide an interesting contrast and there is another outstanding piano solo from Atalita with some driving playing from Lopez and cook.
Without a Doubt brings together a lively latin jazz ensemble that combines driving grooves with thoughtful and imaginative arrangements and playing that results in a superb recording. Steve Kroon’s website is www.stevekroon.com and this is available from cdbaby.com and other sources.
My review copy was provided by a publicist/