Mar 28th 2023

Immanuel Wilkins joins Camille Bacon for a conversation on the notion of musical composition and performance as a channel for the divine.

Ahead of his performance at Constellation, Chicago, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins is joined by Camille Bacon for a conversation orbiting around the notion of musical composition and performance as a channel for the divine, specifically as it relates to his latest studio album, ‘The 7th Hand.’ The album derives its title from a question steeped in Biblical symbolism: If the number 6 represents the extent of human possibility, Wilkins wondered what it would mean — how it would sound — to invoke divine intervention and allow that seventh element to possess his quartet. With this in mind, Wilkins and Bacon will discuss music as a redemptive and relevational medium, the importance of divine discipline, and how daily moments of worship take form in their respective creative pursuits.

About Immanuel Wilkins

Alto saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins burst on to the music scene in 2020 with the release of his Blue Note recording debut, Omega, featuring his longstanding quartet of Micah Thomas, Daryl Johns and Kweku Sumbry. Although just 22 at the time its release, his quartet had already been together for several years and their cohesiveness is reflected in both the maturity of Wilkins’ sound and the sophistication and depth of his compositions. Accolades and press soon followed, including “Omega” being named the best new jazz release of 2020 by the New York Times, the best debut Jazz album by NPR and being nominated for an NAACP Image Award. The year ended on high note, with Wilkins winning the prestigious Letter One Rising Stars Prize

Being a bandleader with a working group has allowed Wilkins to grow both as a composer and as an arranger — and has led to him receiving a number of commissions/grants including, The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, The Jazz Gallery Artist Residency Commission Program (A collaboration with Sidra Bell Dance NY, 2020), The Kimmel Center Artist in Residence for 2020 ( a collaboration with photographer Rog Walker and videographer David Dempewolf) and a South Arts Creativity Residency Grant ( with fellow saxophonist and mentor, Odean Pope) . Wilkins interest and passion for sharing and preserving jazz music has led him to continue to give back and to do clinics and masterclasses at various educational institutions including: Yale, the Consevatorium van Amsterdam, Basel Jazz Schule and Oberlin to name just a handful.

In 2022, Wilkins released his sophomore album on Blue Note, “The 7th Hand”. Like his first release, The 7th Hand topped numerous end of year lists including Jazzwise, NPR, The New York Times, The Financial Times and Jazz Times. 2022 also opened up touring opportunities for Wilkins’ Quartet. They have had the opportunity to tour throughout the US, Canada and Europe including notable performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival, The Monterey Jazz Festival, Umbria, the Northsea, Pori Jazz, Newport and the DC Jazz Festival. In addition to touring as a leader Wilkins, continues to record and share the bandstand with both his peers and his longtime mentors including: Jason Moran, Kenny Barron, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Dylan, Solange, Joel Ross, Gerald Clayton and Lalah Hathaway among many others.

About Camille Bacon

Camille Bacon is a Chicago-based writer who is building a “sweet black writing life” as inspired by the words of poet Nikky Finney and the infinite wisdom of the Black feminist tradition more broadly. Through a practice that involves rigorous research and oration in addition to writing, she examines the material function of aesthetics and poetics. More specifically, she is interested in illuminating how aesthetics and poetics can catalyze a collective reorientation towards relation, connection and intimacy and away from apathy and amnesia. Her work has appeared in Frieze, Cultured Magazine, Studio Magazine, Momus and Burnaway, among other outlets. She currently manages McArthur Binion’s studio in Chicago, IL and formerly held positions at GRAY Gallery, Chicago, IL, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.

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