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Immanuel Wilkins is a saxophonist, composer, educator, and bandleader from the greater Philadelphia area. While growing up, Wilkins honed his skills in the church and studied in programs dedicated to teaching jazz. After moving to New York in 2015, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Music at Juilliard while simultaneously establishing himself as an in demand side person, touring the globe and working with and/or recording with the likes of Jason Moran, the Count Basie Orchestra, Delfeayo Marsalis, Joel Ross, Aaron Parks, Gerald Clayton, Gretchen Parlato, Lalah Hathaway, Solange Knowles, Bob Dylan, and Wynton Marsalis. It was also during this same period that he formed his quartet featuring his long-time bandmates: Micah Thomas, Daryl Johns and Kweku Sumbry.
Being a bandleader for over four years has allowed Wilkins to grow both as a composer and as an arranger and has led to him receiving a number of commissions including, most recently, from The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, The Jazz Gallery Artist Residency Commission Program and The Kimmel Center Artist in Residence for 2020. Wilkins has an impressive resumé as an educator – from teaching at NYU and the New School, he has taught and given master classes and clinics at Oberlin, Yale and the Kimmel Center.
By studying the humanity and the cultural specificity of jazz, Wilkins aspires to bring people together through his art. His debut recording, Omega (Blue Note 2020), produced by Jason Moran has received rave reviews including NPR and The New York Times as well as “Best New Jazz Artist” in the JazzTimes Critics’ Poll, and on numerous “Best of 2020” lists.
Wilkins began 2021 on a very positive note. He was nominated for a NAACP Image Award (Best Jazz Instrumental album) and won the prestigious LetterOne Rising Stars Jazz Award.