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Jazz saxophonist, composer Immanuel Wilkins will explore the Black experience, address racial injustice during March 25 performance

Posted: 03/17/23

Renowned jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger Immanuel Wilkins will use empathy and spirituality to address racial injustice through music when he performs with his quartet at the Play Circle Theater in Memorial Union on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. CST. Wilkins’s performance is part of the Wisconsin Union Theater’s 2022-23 Jazz Series.

Patrons can purchase in-person or virtual tickets to Wilkins’s concert through the event webpage, by phone at (608) 252-2787 or at the Memorial Union Box Office. Wisconsin Union members, patrons under the age of 18, and University of Wisconsin–Madison students, staff and faculty can purchase Wisconsin Union Theater tickets at a discounted rate. 

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wilkins grew up surrounded by music. He sang at his community church from a young age and enrolled in jazz courses at the historic Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts. In 2015, Wilkins moved to New York City to attend the Juilliard School. He soon led his first jazz quartet, gained a mentor in trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire, and established himself as a rising jazz star when he joined pianist Jason Moran on tour.

During his March 25 performance, pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Kweku Sumbry will join Wilkins on stage. The four musicians achieve a seamless synergy between their instruments through improvisational turn-taking.

After releasing his debut album “Omega” in May 2020 with Blue Note Records, Wilkins quickly received an outpouring of critical acclaim for the album’s raw, emotional exploration of spirituality and the Black experience. The New York Times named “Omega” the Best Jazz Album of 2020, and Jazz Times called the album “the most important debut jazz recording in years.”

“The 7th Hand,” Wilkins’s sophomore album released in 2022, challenges convention and celebrates Black life through a seven-part suite. Wilkins composed each movement with the intention of allowing his quartet to become vessels for divine intervention, letting the music move freely through each instrument and musician.

Remaining Wisconsin Union Theater 2022-23 season events include Anthony McGill with the UW–Madison Symphony Orchestra on April 4, the Danish String Quartet on April 18 and Samara Joy on May 4.

Click here for more information about the March 25 performance by Wilkins and his quartet.

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