Immanuel Wilkins’ New Blue Note Album, ‘The 7th Hand’ Is Out Now

The record is the much-anticipated follow-up to the young star’s acclaimed debut ‘Omega’ – the New York Tines’ No. 1 Jazz Album of 2020.

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Immanuel Wilkins - Photo: Rog Walker
Immanuel Wilkins - Photo: Rog Walker

Alto saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins has released his remarkable sophomore album The 7th Hand, the follow-up to his widely acclaimed debut Omega which was named the No.1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times.

The 7th Hand once again showcases Wilkins’ profound compositional talent with a seven-movement suite of new original pieces performed by his quartet with Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, and Kweku Sumbry on drums, plus special guests Elena Pinderhughes on flute and the Farafina Kan percussion ensemble. Wilkins tells Don Was about some of the meaning behind the music on the latest episode of ‘First Look’, which you can watch below.

Immanuel Wilkins on "First Look" with Don Was of Blue Note Records

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Wilkins’ music is filled with empathy and conviction, bonding arcs of melody and lamentation to pluming gestures of space and breath. The 7th Hand explores relationships between presence and nothingness across an hour-long suite. “I wanted to write a preparatory piece for my quartet to become vessels by the end of the piece, fully,” says the Brooklyn-based, Philadelphia-raised artist who Pitchfork said “composes ocean-deep jazz epics.”

While writing, Wilkins began viewing each movement as a gesture bringing his quartet closer to complete vesselhood, where the music would be entirely improvised, channeled collectively. “It’s the idea of being a conduit for the music as a higher power that actually influences what we’re playing,” he says. The 7th Hand 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.

Throughout the album Wilkins and his bandmates reveal their collective truth by peeling themselves back, layer by layer, movement by movement. “Each movement chips away at the band until the last movement — just one written note,” says Wilkins. “The goal of what we’re all trying to get to is nothingness, where the music can flow freely through us.”

Following a sold-out album release show last night in Wilkins’ hometown of Philadelphia, the saxophonist will be touring across the U.S. and Europe over the coming months. Wilkins’ sold-out NYC show at Harlem Stage has been rescheduled to February 25 due to the impending winter storm with a 2nd set added due to popular demand. Visit the artist’s official website for further information and the full itinerary.

Buy or stream The 7th Hand.

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