Nate Smith + KINFOLK, Immanuel Wilkins Put on a Clinic in San Francisco at SFJAZZ

Photos and Recap by Max Stewart

Nate Smith + KINFOLK were unequivocally exceptional in San Francisco at SFJAZZ, as the band looked ahead to their performance at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival a few days following the performance. Saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins even opened the show, setting the scene for an intimate night of multi-dimensional and inspired alt-jazz. Wilkins is a top-tier saxophonist and composer, and his latest album The 7th Hand is a well-rounded representation of his broad musical acumen and how far out his soundscape can stretch.

Nate Smith…. where do we even begin. Smith is one of the most talented and stylistically-diverse drummers currently touring, with his tempo shifts and perfectly-placed fills leading his band effortlessly throughout their set. Some may recognize Smith as a member of The Fearless Flyers, a spin-off with some members of Vulfpeck.

Smith’s latest record (Kinship 2: See The Birds) is stunning, a must-listen for fans of any musical genre. The band actually opened with the opening track from the latest record, the Pat Matheny-esque “Altitude.” KINFOLK includes a top brass mix of musicians who all synced perfectly in a live atmosphere: Fima Ephron (electric bass), Brad Allen Williams (guitar), Jaleel Shaw (alto and soprano saxophones), Jon Cowherd (piano and Fender rhodes), and Amma Whatt who joined on stage in San Francisco for vocals.

Seeing Smith perform is truly hypnotizing and awe-inspiring. He is so technically proficient yet loose as a drummer, an incredibly hard balance to master for those that sit behind the kit. Such a smooth player confidently sitting front-and-center, and not a single note missed. We look forward to seeing him perform with KINFOLK and frankly in any capacity for years to come. If Nate Smith is on the bill, we will be there.

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