Assistant professor of music recently released Skip Wilkins Solo – Live at Lafayette
Following the successful releases of Skip Wilkins Quintet: Volumes I and II, Skip Wilkins, assistant professor of music, has released his third album in less than 12 months.
The album, Skip Wilkins Solo – Live at Lafayette, was recorded on the main stage of the Williams Center for the Arts and was released nationally Aug. 14 from Dreambox Media. The CD is from the recording of Wilkins’ first solo concert at Lafayette as a full-time faculty member. Performed on Sept. 16, 2000, the concert served as his way of introducing himself to the campus.
On Aug. 31, the Skip Wilkins Quintet will perform some of these songs as well as material from their other albums at a concert at 8 p.m. on the main stage of the Williams Center. The concert is free. Wilkins will also be discussing his recent experiences performing and teaching in the Czech Republic and give a preview of the evening concert that day at a brown bag luncheon at 12:10 p.m. in the Williams Center, Room 123.
The new album shows Wilkins’ interpretations on a wide range of works, including those by jazz artists Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, the American song writing team of George and Ira Gershwin, and romantic composer Frederic Chopin. The CD also features original works written by Wilkins, including “It Was Bound to Happen,” “The Hand-Off,” “Petty Theft,” and “Take the Fourth.”
“I enjoy playing the canon – the Great American Songbook, representing the works of Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Berlin, Porter, Kern, Ellington et al. And, of course, I play a lot of jazz standards by a range of jazz composer-performers. The solo concert reflected more of the balance among my own original material, selections from the Great American Songbook, and jazz standards,” said Wilkins.
The release of the CD comes in the midst of a hectic summer for Wilkins. Along with finalizing everything for this album, he also recorded music for another album with his quintet in June. The quintet is made up of Wilkins on piano, Paul Kendall on saxophones, Tom Kozic on guitars, Tony Marion on bass, and Gary Rissmiller on drums. When not recording the third quintet album or working to get his solo album to the market, Wilkins found himself working with the press for the release of Volume II and collecting radio airplay and reviews for Volume I.
“I must say, April, May, and June were some of the most hectic and diverse months of my performing and recording life,” says Wilkins. “It was an exhilarating and crazy period of time, but we got it all done.”
Wilkins remains active as a performer. In July, he performed and taught at Moravian College’s July Jazz Getaway, where he had the chance to perform with world-class tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, the son of jazz legend John Coltrane. Having recently appeared at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa., Aug. 11 to celebrate the releases of his CDs, he also toured, performed, and taught in the Czech Republic from Aug. 17-26, and made an appearance at the Karel Velebny Summer Jazz Workshop on Aug. 24.
Performances outside the College include: 7 p.m. Aug. 30 and Sept. 27 at the Blue Orchid Inn, 1565 State St., Mertztown, Pa.
“Jazz is dangerous–like fast-break basketball, full throttle. Even with highly intricate music like mine, there’s a whole lot of unknowns in the performances,” commented Wilkins. “I was destined to do this, from the time I started carrying my father’s drums to his gigs at age three.”
Joining the Lafayette faculty full-time in 2000, Wilkins received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for excellence in jazz composition. His music has received positive reviews from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press, Morning Call, Express-Times, Improvijazzation, and 52nd Street Jazz. He has performed at acclaimed venues such as the Deer Head Inn, Blue Orchid Inn, Allentown Symphony Hall, Wichita Jazz Festival, and Tavern on the Green.
Previously, Wilkins taught at University of Northern Colorado, spending many of his eight years there in the nationally acclaimed jazz studies program. He also taught locally at Muhlenberg College and Moravian College. Wilkins earned a bachelor’s degree from College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in music from University of Northern Colorado. He also studied jazz composition and arrangement with Herb Pomeroy at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where Wilkins also served as a faculty member.
Additional information on Wilkins’ music can be found at www.skipwilkinsjazz.com.