Corey Wilkes has established himself as one of the best creative improvising trumpeters in the modern era. Having the skill set and maturity to approach mainstream repertoire of jazz standards of someone twice his age, while concurrently having the ability to approach contemporary hip-hop from the perspective of an MC – designates Corey Wilkes as a global musical ambassador.
As a child, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Wilkes was surrounded by the sounds of Blues, R&B, Soul, Funk and Jazz. He picked up the trumpet for the first time at the age of 10 participating in his school band programs. Corey's natural talent immediately began to flourish. His confidence and maturity were well beyond his years. As a student at Rich South High School in Richton Park, Illinois, his hard work and dedication secured him a spot in the Illinois All State Honors Jazz Combo; the first student in the school's history to do so.
Corey further honed his craft while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. While there, he studied trumpet under Tiger Okoshi and Charlie Lewis Jr. Leaving college for more hands on experience and in an effort to absorb the very essence of Jazz, Corey traveled to New Orleans integrating himself into the local scene by frequenting jam sessions and playing in several different ensembles.
Upon his return to Chicago, Corey was appointed Artist in Residence for the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and asked to join the formidable Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He has also shared the stage with numerous Jazz Masters including but not limited to; Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, James Moody, Kurt Elling, Von Freeman, Greg Osby, James Carter, Will Calhoun, Roscoe Mitchell, Marcus Belgrave, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Mulgrew Miller. His soulful notes can be heard gracing a variety of contemporary projects including sets by DJ Logic, Osunlade and Josh Deep; tracks on Hidden Beach Recordings Presents: Unwrapped Vol. 4, Kahil El Zabar’s Ascension Loft Series as well as Nona Hendryx, Soulive, Meshell Ndegocello and Ledisi.
To top off all of Corey Wilkes’ accomplishments, he made history playing with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. No one else had filled the trumpet seat vacated after the passing of Lester Bowie in 1999. In October of 2003, Corey was asked to tour with the group on the West Coast where his performance received rave reviews. Consequently he formally joined the Art Ensemble of Chicago; which tours the United States, Europe, and beyond.
At present, Corey performs and tours at some of the most renowned clubs and festivals in the world. His soulful, sophisticated sound can be found on numerous projects ranging from jazz to hip-hop.