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 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
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