If gigs and glory in chamber music are what a classically trained player seeks, the first piece of advice from anyone already in the field is apt to be, “Learn strings, not winds.”
It’s the string-playing Emerson, Borodin and Juilliard ensembles of the world that tend to capture music lovers’ fancy. Populated by instruments farther back on the orchestra seating chart, wind ensembles are fewer in number, smaller on classical marquees, and often named for colleges or conservatories that keep them afloat.
Yet the New York City-based Imani Winds has managed, in almost 20 years together and largely on its own, to succeed in chamber music, even while remaining something of an outlier. Traversing classical, jazz, pop and world music, this Grammy-nominated quintet is also culturally unique — a group comprised mainly of African-Americans in a field with notably few.