Kraig Kilby may not be a household name for most of us, BUT chances are you have heard his playing alongside such greats as Etta James, The O’Jays and Otis Clay among many others throughout his illustrious career. His new album Satori is a Zen Buddhist concept album of jazz, etheral and spiritual awakenings. His single “Ketchee” off the album is both experimental and spatial, full of echoing horns and odd time signatures. It’s the type of music that can really only be done well by being fully versed as a musician. I only know of a handful of people that can pull this stuff off and Kraig does it with seeming ease. His rich jazz trombone playing is sought out worldwide.
Skope: First off, what can you tell us about the title of your new album Satori?
Kraig: A level of enlightenment that came from Zen philosophy. A new spiritual level as well as musically.
Skope: What got you started and why did you choose a trombone for an instrument?
Kraig: In 4th grade I saw a concert in Denver, CO featured Mile High Boys Band and I was inspired to learn to play trumpet. A few weeks later they were holding auditions and the instructor said that I’d be better suited for another instrument because of the way the mouthpiece fits and I had a slight overbite. Later on it also fit more with my personality.
Skope: I read that you also play piano, how fluent are you in that and is that an instrument you would use to write your actual songs?
Kraig: Piano is used for composing. My father was stationed in Germany when I was 14, that’s when I began taking lessons. My primary instrument will always be trombone, it’s my voice.
Skope: Do you have a group that actually sits down together and creates, or did you use session players?
Kraig: I used Michael Clark on drums and Paul Jackson on bass from Herbie Hancock. After I heard Chameleon by Herbie Hancock in the 70’s I had decided then and there that if I had the chance to record my own album, it would be with those guys.
Skope: A few of the tracks from Satori remind me of John Zorn with Bootsy Collins from a few years back. Have you ever performed with either of them?
Kraig: No, however we did some gigs with Bootsy on the same bill back in ’77.
Skope: Who are a few of your musical influences and why?
Kraig: In the beginning I was formerly trained, so it was mainly classical artists such as Beethoven and Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach. But I also liked big band era Duke Ellington, County Bassey and Sam Kinton. Later there were more jazz individuals like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Williams and musicians in other genres too, like salsa.
My father had a wide collection of big band stuff like Dan Webster and jazz and I started learning to play it. But I’d say I was more influenced by listening to it.
Skope: For those of us not ‘in the know’, explain what jazz really means to you?
Kraig: It’s getting harder to describe jazz as it grows on. It’s people music, it represent the rythm of life and counciousness. Mainly because it involves improvisation, which is what people have to do everyday in the trials and tribulations they face.
Skope: Will you be touring in support of Satori?
Kraig: Not at the moment, but I would like to record some more music first and seek airplay and licensing opportunities.
Skope: Do you have any guests featured on the album that we might need to know about?
Kraig: On the last track there is Lynn Haet on the orchestral harp.
Skope: So many people don’t really comprehend jazz, but when done well, it can really elevate you. Do you find that to be true?
Kraig: Yes I do, I think that it definitely has that effect and it’s hard to define. It hits people in different ways and that’s why it’s people music.
Skope: Where can people find out more about Kraig Kilby and get hold of this amazing album?
Douglas Garnett – Douglas.Garnett@gmail.com