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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Jazz powerhouse Immanuel Wilkins is set to appear on the Fontana series

Immanuel Wilkins in a recording studio
Courtesy photo
Immanuel Wilkins

Immanuel Wilkins, whose debut album was named Best Jazz Album of the Year by the New York Times in 2020, says he tried playing violin and piano before asking his parents for a saxophone in the 3rd grade. Today, the Juilliard graduate credits school programs, talented peers, Philadelphia’s rich music scene and lots of practice for mastering his instrument at a young age. At 7:30 pm on Friday, Mar 24, Fontana will present the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet in concert in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at Western Michigan University.

Wilkins talks to Cara Lieurance about the experience of writing his second album, The Seventh Hand, and about the trusted friends he brought together to record it: pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. He also tells a story about earning the admiration of alto saxophone great Lee Konitz by convincingly playing “trad jazz” tunes by Jelly Roll Morton.

Brad Wong joins Lieurance to share more details about the concert. He says in addition to meeting with kids and families at the Douglass Community Association, Wilkins will work with WMU jazz students and offer an open sound check at 4 pm Friday.

Fontana director Brad Wong talks about Immanuel Wilkins' visit to Kalamazoo. The interview with Wilkins is included.

Cara Lieurance covers local music with live morning interviews, and produces WMUK's Let's Hear It weekday mornings at 10 am Mon-Fri, showcasing local interviews and performances. She also produces The Pure Drop, an hour of Celtic music, with musician Dave Marlatt.