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Immanuel Wilkins|Omega

Omega

Immanuel Wilkins

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Immanuel Wilkins is a 23-year-old saxophonist and composer. Though well-known to musicians since he was a teen, his excellent playing on Joel Ross' acclaimed 2019 debut KingMaker caught the attention of jazz fans. Wilkins' tone is warm, but sometimes searing, and capable of expressing deep emotion with technical aplomb. His phrasing is eloquent, sometimes angular, and his compositions reflect a complex harmonic system derived equally from gospel, blues, spiritual post-bop, and the musical thinking of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Omega was produced by pianist/mentor Jason Moran. Wilkins' quartet includes pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. The tunes here reflect Wilkins' feelings about the ongoing struggle begun by the Civil Rights movement in the 20th century and carried on by Black Lives Matter in the 21st. Lush melody and shifting tempos govern opener "Warriors." Jones takes the first solo, moving across jazz history with an expansive, swinging sensibility. The rhythm section's interplay is knotty and tight, addressing Jones' right-hand runs with physicality. "Ferguson: An American Tradition" frames the communities' reaction to the 2014 killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown, Jr. by a police officer who was later acquitted. Wilkins offers an elegy as his intro, portraying the event in reverse. It becomes more intense as piano and percussion fire in tandem; Wilkins' solo bridges them, its motion and rumbling dissent are colored by grief, sorrow, and immense pain. "The Dreamer," honoring James Weldon Johnson (the first executive secretary of the NAACP) is almost contemplative, with speculative piano chords, a sparse bassline, and brushed cymbals. Wilkins' lyric statement and solo are abundant in tenderness and empathy. "Mary Turner: An American Tradition" is a turbulent, angry, and inventive composition about the brutal murder of a pregnant black woman lynched (and worse) by a Georgia mob in 1918, after publicly calling out whites for her husband's murder. "Grace and Mercy" is another respite, its lyricism finds Wilkins and Thomas joining in the melody before the saxist sets it aloft with his fluid solo. The album's centerpiece is a four-part suite of varying rhythmic and harmonic strategies that Wilkins composed at Juilliard. First, "The Key" offers subdued gospel tones with single alto notes as Johns plays chords and Sembry dances on his cymbals. "Saudade" is knotty modern post-bop that crisscrosses modalism with swing, and allows everyone a solo. "Eulogy" is a ballad entwining sax lines with slightly staggered piano chords as the rhythm section delivers angular asides, adding tension to the sweetness. Closing movement "Guarded Heart" weds an elegant modal lyric to fiery, heated, yet always graceful group improvisation. The title-track closer comes right out of John Coltrane's Impressions period. Jones counters with striated Latin rhythms and comps as Johns and Sumbry embrace both and Wilkins' solo buoys them in exploring outer dimensions. All told, it amounts to Omega as an auspicious, extremely impressive debut from an artist who arrives fully formed as a bandleader.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Omega

Immanuel Wilkins

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1
Warriors
00:06:56

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Ferguson - An American Tradition
00:07:08

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
The Dreamer
00:03:37

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Mary Turner - An American Tradition
00:04:22

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Grace And Mercy
00:06:48

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Part 1. The Key
00:02:46

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Part 2. Saudade
00:07:24

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Part 3. Eulogy
00:05:52

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Part 4. Guarded Heart
00:09:41

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Omega
00:08:46

Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Allen, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Moran, Producer - Immanuel Wilkins, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Micah Thomas, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Kweku Sumbry, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Daryl Johns, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

Immanuel Wilkins is a 23-year-old saxophonist and composer. Though well-known to musicians since he was a teen, his excellent playing on Joel Ross' acclaimed 2019 debut KingMaker caught the attention of jazz fans. Wilkins' tone is warm, but sometimes searing, and capable of expressing deep emotion with technical aplomb. His phrasing is eloquent, sometimes angular, and his compositions reflect a complex harmonic system derived equally from gospel, blues, spiritual post-bop, and the musical thinking of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Omega was produced by pianist/mentor Jason Moran. Wilkins' quartet includes pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. The tunes here reflect Wilkins' feelings about the ongoing struggle begun by the Civil Rights movement in the 20th century and carried on by Black Lives Matter in the 21st. Lush melody and shifting tempos govern opener "Warriors." Jones takes the first solo, moving across jazz history with an expansive, swinging sensibility. The rhythm section's interplay is knotty and tight, addressing Jones' right-hand runs with physicality. "Ferguson: An American Tradition" frames the communities' reaction to the 2014 killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown, Jr. by a police officer who was later acquitted. Wilkins offers an elegy as his intro, portraying the event in reverse. It becomes more intense as piano and percussion fire in tandem; Wilkins' solo bridges them, its motion and rumbling dissent are colored by grief, sorrow, and immense pain. "The Dreamer," honoring James Weldon Johnson (the first executive secretary of the NAACP) is almost contemplative, with speculative piano chords, a sparse bassline, and brushed cymbals. Wilkins' lyric statement and solo are abundant in tenderness and empathy. "Mary Turner: An American Tradition" is a turbulent, angry, and inventive composition about the brutal murder of a pregnant black woman lynched (and worse) by a Georgia mob in 1918, after publicly calling out whites for her husband's murder. "Grace and Mercy" is another respite, its lyricism finds Wilkins and Thomas joining in the melody before the saxist sets it aloft with his fluid solo. The album's centerpiece is a four-part suite of varying rhythmic and harmonic strategies that Wilkins composed at Juilliard. First, "The Key" offers subdued gospel tones with single alto notes as Johns plays chords and Sembry dances on his cymbals. "Saudade" is knotty modern post-bop that crisscrosses modalism with swing, and allows everyone a solo. "Eulogy" is a ballad entwining sax lines with slightly staggered piano chords as the rhythm section delivers angular asides, adding tension to the sweetness. Closing movement "Guarded Heart" weds an elegant modal lyric to fiery, heated, yet always graceful group improvisation. The title-track closer comes right out of John Coltrane's Impressions period. Jones counters with striated Latin rhythms and comps as Johns and Sumbry embrace both and Wilkins' solo buoys them in exploring outer dimensions. All told, it amounts to Omega as an auspicious, extremely impressive debut from an artist who arrives fully formed as a bandleader.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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