Skinny Williams Biography
Saxophonist Skinny Williams is an accomplished instrumentalist, a savvy composer, and an electrifying performer who — since the release of his first solo album in 1999 — has created a series of recordings that have made him a distinctive talent in the realm of contemporary jazz. Through his noteworthy combination of earthy grooves and soulful improvisations, Williams has earned both critical acclaim and mainstream appreciation.
Skinny's latest album, Here2MakeUHappy, a collection of toe tappin' grooves from the famed saxophonist and all star rhythm section is a praiseworthy successor to William's last traditional jazz album and audience favorite, Skinny Swings Again.
Here2MakeUHappy, which is available on CD and I-tunes, showcases Skinny Williams production skills, imperious tone, and poetic saxophone phrasings on eleven newly recorded compositions accompanied by some of the greatest musicians of smooth jazz and rhythm and blues.
"Here2MakeUHappy" the title track has a drum laden happy beat with a wailin' sax lead inspired by the energy he felt after a Norman Brown concert. "When I first wrote it I called it 'Summerfest' because that's the festival where I heard Norman perform. What a huge smile he had performing that day and what a memorable show. This song reminded me of that feeling"
"Aruba" a sexy ballad with a caressing melody and layered background harmonies is one of the definite mood tunes of the album. "I probably spent more time producing this song than all the others on the album. It definitely has seduction written all over it."
"Sunday" a song co-written with Kevin Brunson is another up-beat track on the album. "With this one we strove to find a great hook. The rhythm track was so strong we had to find a solid melody to compliment it. This tune reminds me of the joyful leisureliness a Sunday afternoon can have"
"Video Dreams" the opening track sets the overall vibe of the album. A groovin' drum and bass line with saxes carrying the hummable melody gets your head boppin' to the beat."
"Disco Jazz" a 'Down-to-the-Bone' type groove with a mysterious melody. Alto saxophone and wah wah guitar dominate the song reminiscent of the seventies dance tunes. "Alto was my main instrument before tenor. It was great to record this on my old horn again."
In addition to eight original compositions Here2MakeUHappy boasts crowd favorites "Miss Celie's Blues," from the motion picture The Color Purple, and "Children Of The Ghetto" produced by Tim Gant whose collaboration provides umph to the albums arrangements.
Joining Skinny on Here2MakeUHappy are Richard Patterson (D. Sanborn), Keith Henderson (R.Kelly), Mike Logan(B. Culbertson), Ernie Adams (Ramsey Lewis) Buddy Fambro (Nick Collionne) Tim Gant (Art Porter)
About the Artist
Skinny Williams's earliest musical influence was his mother who played recordings by everyone from Burt Bacharach, George Benson, Barbra Striesand, and Parliament Funkadelic.
"My mother was not able to take piano lessons as a child but she insisted that we did" He admits. "I agreed to the lessons because I had a crush on the piano teacher. I would just stare at her as she played during the lesson without regard to what was being taught. I'm surprised I remembered where middle 'C' was. The teacher moved away and I started playing sax the next year and realized I had found my instrument."
A Chicago native, Williams embarked on his music career while still in his teens. Being 6 feet 4 and 180 pounds, he was often referred to as "that skinny sax player," thus earning him his nickname "Skinny". And putting his first name William as his last name, hence Skinny Williams.
He pursued his music studies at Berklee College of Music. After graduation he toured the world with blues great Junior Wells.
"I went to a jam session one night and these blues guys asked me to go on the road.... I didn't even know who Junior Wells was at the time. I was a 'jazzer' coming out of college and playing the blues taught me to simplify my musical ideas."
Skinny Williams has performed with some of the biggest names in the business- from comedian Bernie Mac, The Ohio Players, Chaka Khan, Brian McKnight, George Duke and Sheila E, jammed on stage with Brian Culbertson, Nick Colionne. Sat in with blues legends Buddy Guy, BB King and Bo Diddley. Toured Australia, Japan, and Europe with blues greats Junior Wells and Lucky Peterson.
Williams is one of the industry's most respected and in-demand players, with critics comparing him to such greats as Stanley Turrentine, Junior Walker, Grover Washington Jr. and Boney James.
"I never liked to be labeled this or that type of musician. The last word is... Can you feel what I feel when I play?"
— Skinny Williams
— Derek Taylor, All About Jazz
"Skinny Williams...is all about the groove"
— Paul Abella WDCB radio
"Lyrical and commanding!"
— William Schafer, Mississippi Rag
"Williams' tenor sound is thick and sweet!"
— Adam Johnson, Chicago Jazz Magazine
"Really amazing articulate playing!"
— Rick Hogan, WGN Radio
"Robust billowing tone!"
— Kevin Whitehead, Chicago Reader
"Williams adds layers of feeling with each chorus!"
— Tom Hyslop, Blues Review
"Williams blows life... Highly recommended!"
— Justin O'Brien, Living Blues