Immanuel Wilkins (Photo Credit Rog Walker)
Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America season of free, live performances continues on Saturday, August 26 with a 45th anniversary celebration for Roulette Intermedium, featuring sets from saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins, hybrid NYC jazz group 75 Dollar Bill, and sound designer and performer Ka Baird.
The evening will serve as a celebration for the renowned experimental arts organization and venue. Founded in 1978, Roulette’s mission is to support artists creating new and adventurous art in all disciplines by providing them with a venue and resources to realize their creative visions and to build an audience interested in the evolution of experimental art. Wilkins received both a Roulette 2021 Commission for the work Blues Blood | Black Future and a Roulette 2022 Residency. Che Chen of 75 Dollar Bill received a Roulette 2018 Commission and Ka Baird was a 2012 Resident Artist at Roulette.
Attendees to Bryant Park Picnic Performances may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At all performances, attendees can discover new dishes and celebrate classics from the five boroughs with a rotating line-up of local artisanal vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. Stout NYC offers giant pretzels, gourmet popcorn and other light bites as well as a selection of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Immanuel Wilkins, 75 Dollar Bill, and Ka Baird
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 years old at the time its release, his quartet had already been together for over four 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.
75 Dollar Bill was formed in 2012 in New York City by percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist Che Chen. Played on a deeply resonant plywood crate, Brown’s earthy, elemental rhythms are both the foundation and foil for Chen’s ecstatic, modal guitar style. The group’s electric, richly patterned music can shape shift from joyful dance tunes to slowly changing trance minimalism, an uncategorizable hybrid which draws on the modal traditions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their hometown. While Brown and Chen are always at the band’s core, the band frequently expands into different configurations live and on record. Their Little Big Band is a multigenerational, multicultural orchestra that includes old friends and collaborators Sue Garner (bass), Cheryl Kingan (saxophones), Talice Lee (violin/keyboard), Steve Maing (guitar), Jim Pugliese (percussion), Karen Waltuch (viola), Barry Weisblat (percussion/electronics), and others.
Ka Baird is a musician, performer, composer and sound designer based in New York City. They are known for their live performances which include extended voice and microphone techniques combined with electronics and psychoacoustic interplay of flutes and other woodwinds. They create a present tense sound with a vigorous, ritualistic delivery that seeks extreme release through physical exertion and psychic extension. They have worked/collaborated with many other musicians, artists, filmmakers and choreographers, both in structured compositions and in their dedicated practice of improvisation and interdisciplinary work. They have performed extensively throughout the USA and Europe including: Unsound (Krakow, PL), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY), Issue Project Room (Brooklyn, NY), The Kitchen (NYC), KRAAK (Brussels, BE), and Le Guess Who (Utrecht, NL). They have been an artist-in-residence at We Jazz (Helsinki, FI), Sonoscopia (Porto, PT), Inkonst (Malmo, SE), Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago, IL), and Pioneer Works (Brooklyn, NY). They have been a recipient of the Foundation of Contemporary Art’s Emergency Grant, a Jerome Foundation Artist-In-Residence through Roulette Intermedium, and is currently a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow through 2023-25.
Follow Bryant Park
Location and Subway Directions: Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Take the B, D, F, or M train to 42nd Street/Bryant Park; or, take the 7 train to 5th Avenue.