Photo: David France | stevekroon.com
The next show will air on Sunday, September 14, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of the program will feature an interview with percussionist Steven Kroon. You can hear a short preview of the show below.
Steven Kroon was born in Spanish Harlem to parents who had moved to New York City from their native Puerto Rico. His surname comes from his grandfather, who immigrated to La Isla Encantada from the Dutch-speaking Caribbean island of Curaçao. At the age of nine, the family moved to Queens, where the youngster’s interest in music was further sparked by the presence of many noted jazz and R&B musicians. “In my neighborhood,” he recalls, “I had Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis as a neighbor, and Lester Young was four blocks away. James Brown also lived in the area. But I came with all of my Latin roots, thanks to my father. I was fortunate in being able to hear the whole spectrum of music.” He studied Afro – Cuban percussion with Tommy López, Sr. and later Brazilian rhythms with Dom Um Romão. With such a wealth of knowledge under his belt, it’s not surprising that Kroon quickly became a first – call percussionist for recording sessions that required a wide range of talents. Over the years, such diverse artists as Diana Krall, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, The Temptations, Bill Cosby, Kenny G, Ron Carter, Spyro Gyra, Bette Midler, Gary Bartz and Paul Butterfield have tapped Kroon’s seemingly endless array of skills for their projects.
His two decade-long professional association with R&B crooner Luther Vandross underscores Kroon’s reputation as one of the world’s most versatile and respected percussionists. “My time with Luther was great,” Kroon says today, “but when it came time to do my own thing, I was always knew that it was going to be Latin jazz, because that’s where my heart is.”
Kroon’s 2008 El Mas Alla release, his third solo effort, reflected Latin Jazz’s roots in the type of accessible music that attracted diverse audiences and fans. Kroon approaches the style reverently with an emphasis on finesse. “[W]hen you make an album,” Kroon says, “you need to remember everyone –all kinds of listeners and dancers. If you are having people over for a barbeque, for instance, you should be able to put it on and leave it on. It fits what’s going on.”
Kroon’s latest release is the self-produced and released On the #1, which continues his exploration of Latin Jazz. All About Jazz reviewer Edward Blanco writes that it “features a sweet blend of flute and vibes accents accompanied well by vibrant piano and saxophone voices—all delivered by an A-list cast of players” in his favorable assessment of the CD.
Join us as Kroon discusses his musical influences, his approach to Latin jazz, the Latin music scene, and much more in this wide-ranging interview with — of course — lots of great music.
Show engineered and edited by Joyce Jones. Produced and hosted by Joyce Jones and Hank Williams. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Steven Kroon’s sextet perform live at the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium‘s festival.
Watch Kroon’s sextet perform live at the Abyssinian Baptist Church’s Jazz Vespers.