With the Souls taking a bit of a break, the opportunity for Wilkerson to spread his wings came via an invitation from drummer Michael Zerang. The versatile percussionist and experimental music stalwart recently opened his own performance space, the Candlestick Maker, in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. In recent months Zerang has invited some of the top musicians in Chicago and the world to perform at the space: Mwata Bowden, Jeff Parker, Ernest Dawkins, Leroy Jenkins, and Peter Brotzmann. The pairing with Wilkerson, talked about for years, bacame a reality Saturday night.
For a duet partner, Wilkerson could not have chosen better than Zerang, a gifted player who knows when to stoke a colaborator. Zerang set the tone early with low rumbling tom rolls, allowing Wilkerson to work through his initial nervousness with short squawks and muted bursts from his saxophone. Wilkerson followed Zerang's lead until finally removing the towel from the bell of his sax and letting loose with a flurry of scales and notes that hung like smoke rings in the balmy, unseasonably warm night.
From that point, the two players established a rapport that was almost telepathic. Zerang utilized a wide (and odd) array of cymbals placed on the drum skins, while Wilkerson alternated between tenor, clarinet, and alto clarinet to find the perfect complement for Zerang's persussion.