Immanuel Wilkins : Omega Review
Immanuel Wilkins is a Saxophonist, Composer, Arranger, and Bandleader from the greater Philadelphia-area. Moving to New York in 2015 to earn his bachelor’s degree in Music at Juilliard, he soon established himself as an in-demand sideman. Wilkins spent time, touring in Japan, Europe, South America, The United Arab Emirates, and the United States and working and/or recording with artists like 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 (piano), Daryl Johns (bass), and Kweku Sumbry (drums). Wilkins has released a new album titled Omega via Blue Note Records.
Omega opens with a powerful composition called “Warriors,” an up-tempo feel is adorned with an energetic modern melody. “It’s about friendships, family, your hood, and your community,” Wilkins says. “It’s about us serving as warriors for whatever we believe in.” Wilkins alto saxophone sound is round, warm, and dark. During Thomas’ solo, Wilkins plays accompanying lines that are interactive and adds a sonic color to the first part of Thomas’ solo. Wilkins has a beautiful jazz rhythm to his playing, from the school of Cannonball Adderley, but his note choices and improvised melodies are entirely modern.
“Grace and Mercy” has a straight-eight modern jazz feel. The melody is flowing, and Thomas’ intro is beautiful. The harmonic flow is impressive, and the theme is catchy. Johns and Sumbry are a driving force, working together to create a swirling rhythmic flow under Wilkins that is vibrant. Thomas takes a solo that focuses on space, harmonic textures, and a European jazz flavor, it is my favorite from him on the date.
Omega is a beautiful statement from a twenty-two-year-old alto saxophonist. The music represents the jazz being felt by his generation, and the music still to come as they evolve the jazz language. Wilkins is an imaginative composer; he wrote all ten tracks on Omega. The music is alive with youthful energy, social consciousness, and musical adventure.
August 7, 2020
Blue Note Records