..... Kriya Octet.....



all photos : D. Ross Cameron / photoshoot director: Heather Rogers

(click here for hi-resolution 300dpi version)


Michael Smolens

piano, voice, West African balafon, alto flute
Alan Hall
drums, West African djun djuns, dumbek
Brian Rice
Fred Randolph
acoustic and fretless electric bass
Erik Jekabson
trumpet, flugelhorn
Joel Behrman
trombone, trumpet
Alex Murzyn
sop., alto, & ten. saxophones, C & alto flutes, bs. clarinet
Kirsten Strom
sop., alto, & ten. saxophones, C & alto flutes, bs. clarinet



The dynamic jazz octet ‘KRIYA’
captivates audiences everywhere
with their soul-stirring compositions,
creating vivid and ever changing
musical landscapes.
Refining their sound since the early 80’s,
the group also features cutting-edge
reconstructions of
timeless jazz standards.
Listeners are treated to styles and influences
ranging from swung, modal and ECM-styles
to Latin and West African strains.

Kriya’s second CD “Essentions” is due for
release by late 2014.


Presenter Quotes

(following the band's third appearance
at Pacifica Performances, Jan. 28, 2006)

"The musicianship throughout the ensemble is on the highest level. Smolens' writing for his four-horn band "KRIYA" is compelling and innovative, while remaining audience friendly. His music blends Jazz and World Music to create a sound that is uniquely his own."
—Larry Dunlap, producer of
the jazz concerts for Pacifica Performances
and "Four Directions" recording artist, composer, pianist

(following the band's first performance
at Anna's Jazz Island on Oct. 5, 2007)

"Well first off, I just love your music.
It's very interesting without sacrificing
the swing factor! When I was a mere tot
I used to go to an after-hours theater
near South Central L.A. and listen to
the Gerald Wilson Big Band.
It was loose and wonderful,
and not so serious. A golden moment
in music, really. Your music is as close
as I have ever heard to that feeling.
The octet was particularly great
since I could clearly hear each
individual  musician."
—Anna de Leon, club owner

(following the band's performance
at Yoshi’s on Sep. 11, 2002)

“The music of ‘Kriya’ is truly original with overarching themes and arrangements that are epic in scope —- jazz for the new millenium!”
—Alan Tower, composer, recording artist,
founder of Octave Alliance


Press Quotes

“Michael Smolens is a highly skilled writer whose works recall Miles Davis’ ESP period as well as the exoticism of groups like Oregon.”
—Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle


“Smolens’ pieces are notable for their originality and beautifully spacious arrangements…we recommend keeping an eye out for live performances by ‘KRIYA’ or one of his other line-ups.”
—Tony Brooke, Critics’ Choice SF Weekly

"A treasure-trove of musical riches."

—Bud Spangler, Producer and host of See’s Sunday Nights Sweets

“A creative figure on the Bay Area scene
for the past two decades,
Smolens’ music is marked by
spaciousness and carefully calibrated
instrumental voicings.”

—Andrew Gilbert, Contra Costa Times Critic’s Choice

“No ordinary composer…
Smolens gives a broad palette from which to paint luminous ECM-like textures.”

—Lee Hildebrand, East Bay Express Critic’s Choice

“One of the premiere Bay Area composers.”
—Doug Edwards, KPFA Airtime and BAJABA Showcase host

(following the band's third appearance
at Pacifica Performances, Jan. 28, 2006)

"'KRIYA's music walks a blazer's trail of Brazilian Carnival and contemporary cool... 'Essentions' is a bit of spontaneous combustion with Smolens reaching in to his compositional grab bag and pulling out bursts of energy... 'Lavalava' was a West-African approach to seven different moods of polished gems... Smolens' arrangement of 'For No One' (Lennon/McCartney) would have had Lennon whistling in admiration..."
—Jean Bartlett, arts correspondent of the Pacifica Tribune
(click here a PDF of the entire article)


More About the Band...

The band members of ‘Kriya’ are the most highly sought after musicians for contemporary Bay Area jazz projects and are composers in their own right. Their extensive performing, touring, and recording credits include jazz legends:

Michael Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano,
Joe Henderson, Paul McCandless, Jimmy Heath,
Joey Baron, Trilok Gurtu, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson,
Phil Woods, Eddie Harris, Marc Johnson, Billy Childs,
Larry Coryell, Charlie Hunter, Maria Schneider,
and vocalists Jon Hendricks, Mark Murphy, Kitty Margolis and Rebecca Parris.


More About the Bandleader...

A composer for nearly four decades, Smolens’
compositional ideas range in feeling
from intimate to expansive to humorous.
His primary influences include: Art Lande,
Paul McCandless, Egberto Gismonti,
Bob Minzter, and Wayne Shorter.
Being a multi-instrumentalist has
also influenced his writing process,
drawing from different musical
traditions of the world.
As for his keyboard playing,
his intimate phrasing draws listeners into
a musical world of conversation and gesture.

recording/bandleading history

From 1992 to 2003 Michael Smolens
recorded five CD’s. The first featured
tabla master Zakir Hussain and
Oregon reedman Paul McCandless
while the remaining four CD's were
duets with multi-instrumentalist/composer
Sheldon Brown. He is also the leader
of the world music/electro-acoustic
earPlay Jazzquintet, West African trio
"Bal du Kor," and the groundbreaking
18-person vocal/instrumental group,
The Mirabai Ensemble.