Imani Winds: Tiny Desk Concert
"The setting might be small, but in this clever arrangement by Jonathan Russell, we learn that a wind quintet, when called upon, can make a mighty and sonorous wail. Just listen to how the Imanis cap off 'Dances of the Young Girls' with the entire quintet in full cry (at about 4:30 into the video). The bassoon repeats a fat bass line while the clarinet runs its snaky scales. The piccolo, in piercing chirps, serves as a foil to a frenzied oboe and snarling 'whoops' from the French horn."
— Tom Huizenga,
"Imani Winds unleashed a hurricane of creativity in New Orleans on Monday, bringing the 2012-2013 season of the Friends of Music to a glorious climax with snapping fingers, an audience sing-along and an astounding blend of jazz expressivity and classical chops. The concert, at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall, made it clear why this quintet has been tapped to work with superstars like Wayne Shorter and Yo-Yo Ma." Read More...
— Chris Waddington,
New Orleans Times Picayune
Imani Winds bring genre-bending repertoire and Grammy-nominated chops to New Orl
"Just listen to them play ... whatever. Bassoonist Monica Ellis usually takes the bass line, pumping out undulant rhythms and harmonic ideas. Jeff Scott soars ahead on the French horn. Coleman’s flute, Adam’s clarinet and the oboe of Toyin Spellman-Diaz weave a supple musical fabric.
"As an ensemble, the Imani Winds cultivate the big, rich sound one associates with classical players -- and they also display the daring, respond in-the moment qualities one associates with a swinging jazz combo."
— Chris Waddington,
New Orleans Times Picayune
Imani Winds Craft Unity from Music
"Tsigane showed how the ensemble as a whole shared a flexibility of rhythm and time while also showcasing the individual talent of each player with the perfect balance and blend of all parts which chamber ensembles strive for over years. Apparently, sixteen years of the same players’ hard work together can yield fantastic results!"
— Andrea McKerlie,
Classical Voice of North Carolina
'Imani Winds' takes audience on a whirlwind voyage of music
"This performance was the creative handiwork of artists who entertained an appreciative audience."
— Carolyn Stephens,
Journal Gazette/Times-Courier (IL)
Imani Winds is at ease technically and on the vanguard artistically
"Except for Paul Hindemith’s austere but humorous Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, Sunday’s works pushed European classical structure and style to the side, virtually creating new musical idioms. Yet the group echoes the fresh plein-air sound of cool breezes and incisive energy that has marked outdoor wind ensembles since Mozart’s day."
— Cecelia H. Porter,
Wayne Shorter Quartet: Without a Net
"But it's the 23-minute 'Pegasus,' from Shorter's Los Angeles performance where the quartet was expanded to a nonet with the five-piece Imani Winds, that is the album's centerpiece—and highlight. Not since Alegria (Verve, 2003), his most recent studio recording, has Shorter worked with a larger ensemble, and while that album was plenty ambitious, 'Pegasus' trumps it in concept and execution, its powerful blend of form and freedom inspiring such powerful extrapolations from Shorter (again on soprano) that Blade can be heard, in the background, saying 'Oh my god!'"
— John Kelman,
All About Jazz
"Members of this ensemble share a passion for music, and they excel at communicating that passion to their audience." Read More...
— Linda Loomis,
The Imani Winds Festival: Cutting-Edge Young Composers and Players
"The Imani Winds are on a mission to create a repertoire for wind ensembles that rivals what string quartets have to choose from. It’s a daunting task, but the way they’re going about it is very savvy. They’re not only commissioning works by established composers, but starting on the ground floor with up-and-coming talent who in many cases may still be in conservatory. If the idea of witnessing a performance of student works doesn’t exactly set you on fire, then you obviously missed Sunday’s concert at Mannes College of Music, one of the highlights of this year’s Imani Winds Festival, cleverly designed to entice the next generation of topnotch composers to join the crusade."
— Lucid Culture
An Auspicious Start to This Year's Imani Winds Festival
"This year’s third annual Imani Winds Festival of cutting-edge chamber music kicked off auspiciously last night on the upper west side with the pioneering wind quintet performing a sometimes haunting, sometimes exhilarating mix of relatively new (and brand new) compositions. Imani Winds flutist Valerie Coleman’s Tzigane made a deliciously high-octane opening number: an imaginative blend of gypsy jazz and indie classical with intricately shifting voices, it was a showcase for the entirety of the ensemble, notably clarinetist Mariam Adam’s otherworldly, microtonal trills and Coleman’s slinkily legato snakecharmer lines."
— Lucid Culture
Imani's Performance Unaffected by Heat
"This quintet has the reputation of being extremely difficult to play, but the group attacked it with Gallic gusto and loads of power, but never overwhelming the music."
— Leslie Gerber,
Boston Musical Intelligencer
"Sometimes at concerts, it's a guessing game as to whether the character of the music being heard reflects the personality of the players onstage. Saturday night there was no mistaking that the lively program aligned with the exuberant spirit of the five individuals who make up the Imani Winds." Read More...
— Joseph Dalton,
"The group's sound is wonderfully personable and appealing besides its obvious technical expertise and smooth cohesion - some of the qualities each player projected when they talked to the crowd about the pieces." Read More...
— Geraldine Freedman,
Schenectady Daily Gazette
Imani Winds play Ligeti and Stravinsky with gusto
"Imani displayed the motor-rhythmic ostinatos of the first, fourth and last pieces with clarity, and the percolating accompaniment of the third with the type of refined tonal coloring that begged attention away from the melody. The little scraps of melody that emerge only to disappear with little trace were polished and beautifully shaped, especially in the second movement by oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz and bassoonist Monica Ellis."
— David Williams,
Charleston Gazette (WV)
"Of all the tools in the arsenal that the Imani Winds quintet wields so skillfully, perhaps the two most powerful are its ability to get into the heart of each piece's cultural core and to communicate the joy of making music together." Read More...
— Joan Reinthaler,
Imani Winds serve up a delightful program at Festival Miami
"The concert opened with the world premiere of Tsigane by Imani's flutist Valerie Coleman. Somewhat in the vein of an Arabian Night's episode on steroids, this wildly entertaining and wacky romp managed to even sneak in some Latin rhythms, calling for the bassoon to extend its range by a note. Without tilting towards the avant garde or abandoning tonality, Tsigane proved to be thoroughly contemporary and provocatively conservative at the same time."
— Alan Becker,
South Florida Classical Review
"As players, the Imani quintet are a formidable bunch, each capable of great expressiveness in their playing." Read More...
— James D. Watts Jr.,
— Joao Marcos Coelho,
O Estado De S. Paulo (Brazil)
"On Monday April 4 at the University of Akron's E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, the Tuesday Musical Association presented the Imani Winds who delivered a performance that can only be described as stunningly beautiful and technically amazing. Without a doubt, this ensemble is North America's premier woodwind Quintet." Read More...
— Mike Telin,
"It was an evening of intense concentration by the players and often one of wonder for listeners." Read More...
— Warren Gerds,
Green Bay Press Gazette
Imani Winds Preview to play twice in Northeast Ohio: a conversation with hornist
"When looking at the extensive list of chamber music groups that tour internationally on a regular basis, one quickly discovers that the roster of woodwind quintets occupies very little space on the page as compared to string quartets, piano trios or even percussion ensembles and new music groups. However, the Imani Winds have defied these odds and have carved a unique path into the world of classical chamber music for themselves through inventive programs, commissioning projects, and educational activities, and above all superb musicianship."
— Mike Telin,
"Imani Winds' performance provided an evening of diverse music of the more recent period, and certainly one that brought to the fore surprising and innovative aspects of the world of wind, making this a thought-provoking, memorable and excellent concert." Read More...
— Royal Gazette (Bermuda)
"Imani Winds, a soulful blend of classical, world, Latin and jazz music, is one of the most exciting and innovative ensembles to have emerged on the classical music scene.... Imani's passion is for innovation and pushing the boundaries of the traditional wind quintet."
— Washington Examiner
Imani Winds' Innovative Programming Enriches New CD
"'We always go for beautiful sounds. We're not playing jazz per se, but hope to have developed an approach in interpretation that has the energy of improvisation. We make music that makes you feel different, that rides the edge. We like to be engaging and intense.' Having heard them live, and listened to this CD, I can attest to their success in attaining their goals." Read More...
— Marvin J. Ward,
Classical Voice of North Carolina
"Their performances are nothing short of life affirming.
"The Grammy-nominated Imani Winds bring a full-color spectrum to their music making, blending the creamy and spritely sound of reeds with the pure tone of the flute and the spicy sweet honkings of the horn, creating a flavorful gumbo the is stylish and joy-filled." Read More...
— Steve Staruch,
Minnesota Public Radio
"If there's one thing we learn from this disc, it's that composers are composers. The stylistic definitions of a 'jazz' or 'classical' composer are pointless here -- it's just good music. Imani Winds' members have earned a reputation for expanding the recorded wind-quintet repertoire, but in a way that's culturally significant." Read More...
— Daniel Gilliam,
How do you take a work that revolutionized the use of an orchestra ... and perform it without an orchestra? America's most renowned woodwind quintet, did it, distilling Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" to its essence in an arrangement for five wind instruments...these five gifted musicians have blended themselves into a very special ensemble with a uniquely simpatico sense of rhythm. Read More...
— Rob Hubbard,
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Imani Winds is a quintet of incredible woodwind players who through their remarkable musicianship and striking technique make everything they play seem easy...[They] have brought a freshness to the repertoire that has been long overdue.
If one has yet to discover the Imani Winds, this is the album by which to do it. The music is compelling and the playing is stellar. Read More...
— Edward Reichel,
The group literally enthralled San Antonio Independent School District middle and high school music students at Sam Houston High School. For most, Imani Winds was their first exposure to chamber music. Read More...
— Kathy Clay-Little,
San Antonio Express
Not that there isn't plenty of life in the old stories, but it's good to hear some new ones now and then, from different climes, with different points of view, told with verve and skill. Enter the Imani Winds. Read More...
— Mike Greenberg,
San Antonio Incident Light