to Steve Kroon about his career is like getting
a unique history lesson, an insider's perspective
on the way musical history would be written if
it were written by musicians: Places and times
where paychecks and reputations and discographies
and everything else fell away before the pure
joy of making music with the best. Tales of clubs
that exist only in memory where once upon a time
a legends sat in. Or an all night jam so incandescent
it was like staring too long at the sun.
remembers Tommy Lopez, a wonderful teacher and
player who worked with seminal jazz artists such
as Nat Cole, Miriam Makeba, and Harry Belafonte,
taking him uptown to a club in Harlem in the 70's.
The kind of place where you had to knock on the
door and be known, or be with someone who was,
to get in:
night I went with Tommy was so beautiful because
there was; rumberos and rumberos, I mean,
so many of the cats were there. The place was
on fire, man. I mean, your hair was like standing
up on end."
in Harlem, growing up in Brooklyn and Queens.
Listening and learning. Meeting and becoming friends
with other young players like Steve Thornton.
and I went through a lot of good times. We actually
started when the first crew of Brazilians came
over. There was Portinho, Salvador, Claudio Roditi,
Sivuca , Dom Um Romeo. There was a group and Steve
and I were doing a lot of playing, a lot of Carnivals
with them. I guess that was `73 or `74, and we've
been friends ever since."
list of the people with whom Steve Kroon has worked
reads like a Who's Who of modern jazz. Paulinho
Da Costa, Ron
Powell, Eric Gale, Richard Tee, Dom Salvador,
MacDonald, to name just a few. He recently
returned (August, 1999) from Japan where he was
touring with Ron Carter. He also did a week in
August at the Vanguard in New York with a group
Nash on drums, Steven Scott on piano, Peter
Washington on bass, Regina Carter on violin, Steve
Nelson on vibes, and the brilliant young saxophonist,
Benny Carter. And for a little variety, he's doing
the music for "Hoop Dreams" the popular
new series on Showtime.
most exciting thing happening for Steve right
now is the imminent release of his first solo
project, a CD titled In My Path.
It's kind of structured around all the facets
of music I enjoy: Latin jazz, African and world
type stuff, some sambas, some Brazilian type things,
some ballads, and some Afro-Cuban things. I co-wrote
6 of the tunes with Ivan Hamden, a drummer and
good friend of mine. And I got two songs from
Dom Salvadoróhe wrote me a beautiful samba.
So what we did was use different treatments and
different people. On the Brazilian stuff
we used Portinho on drums, Sergio Brandao bass,
Bob Franceschini did all the saxophone work, Ray
Vega on trumpet, and on trombone, Lewis Kahn,
a really great player.
Kroon at the LP® photo studio playing
the Galaxy fiberglass congas along with
the typical setup he uses when working with
artists such as Luther Vandross, Ron Carter
and Lewis Nash.
on the Latin jazz stuff I had Oscar Hernandez
do an arrangement for me of Sun Goddess which
has him and Ruben
Rodriguez on it, and Ray Vega, and Mauricio
(Smith) and Bob Franceschini, and myself, and
Phil Hamilton. And then Mauricio did an arrangement
for me, a Latin jazz version of Mas Quenada. And
that had the same band. And then I have another
Latin jazz number with a little softer Caribbean
flavor, which I have Jon Lucien singing. And it's
beautiful, just beautiful.
got Ron (Carter) playing on a couple of tunes.
Paulette McWilliams did a ballad for me. And Lisa
Fisher did a lot of background vocals. Then I
got two tunes with David Sanchez on them and they
came out great. It's a very all-star cast, and
I got a lot of faith and love from a lot of people
on this recording-I'm very blessed.
surprisingly ambitious for a first solo project-something
Steve is well aware of.
know, it's very hard to put out a record as a
percussionist. It's easier usually for say, a
horn player. The one guy, aside from Tito
Puente or Mongo (Santamaria) who did a fine
job of crossing over was Ralph MacDonald. They
don't really know how to deal with us (percussionists)
as leaders, or who's the front man or whatever.
They have a hard time with that.
hear things different than other musicians too.
We want to hear 6/8, we want to play a samba,
we want to play different things of the moment
and not just one sound all the time, because it's
the rhythm we love. But I'm also very conscious
of the song and how it's received. As I said,
I also write music and lyrics, so I'm very conscious
of the whole process. So trying to do that is
harder but it can also be very rewarding especially
in the long run, you have more longevity. You
know, percussionists and drummers do have great
one who's heard Steve Kroon play or listened to
the music he writes would argue with that.
quotes taken from an interview with Martin Cohen
on August 4th, 1999 for MPR (Martin's Percussion
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Kroon and Lewis Nash at New York City's
Village Vanguard on August 10, 1999.
Steve was performing with Lewis' band.
Lewis is one of the finest drummers I have