Kraig Kilby, Satori

Satori is a Zen Buddhist concept, involving a sudden rush of spiritual awakening; it is also the most recent album of one Kraig Kilby.   Having discovered the trombone as a child in Denver, Kilby relocated to Germany with his army officer father. There, he played trombone in a symphony, and also began to hone his piano chops.

Eventually returning back to the States for more formal musical training, he would proceed to play with several prominent artists, including The O’Jays, Otis Clay, and, later on, Etta James.

Kilby has long fought a trombone crusade, believing that the instrument has received less than its fair share of exposure. Kilby himself received his share of exposure as a contributor to a 1995 Grammy Award winning album. He has since decided to captain his own ship.


Among the results of this decision is his album Satori, for which Kilby has enlisted Paul Jackson on bass and Michael Clark on drums, and on which Kilby fuses trombone with keyboard and other devices.

On track 2, “Lately,” molecules of jazz whirl around currents of electronic music. A distorted trombone sputters through the song’s second part, and things begin to swerve, like the musical equivalent of a DUI.

“Sometime Soon” brings some funk. On “Musing,” the piano (or possibly keyboard) sets a mood that both sooths and occasionally sparkles, courtesy of flowing successions of high notes.

The following track, “Lonebone,” does not soothe; it suggests the distortion and danger of an inebriate late-night escapade through the wrong side of town. The trombone buzzes across octaves, and high pitch hissing dive bombs into the lowest of low notes.

The title track is a lively, structurally sophisticated, piece. About 3 minutes in, Kilby really starts to show his jazz chops. In the eighth and final track, “Strawberry Point,” echoes of ska bounce along the intro.

It is not surprising that Kilby has been nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media award; much of his album would make a fine soundtrack to a movie. Satori offers no perceivable vocals, just the fine instrumental craftsmanship of a veteran who has retained the creative spontaneity of a youth.

Ray Cavanaugh –

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