Irv Williams is a treasure among Twin Cities jazz musicians. His tenor saxophone has graced the scene since Irv moved to the Twin Cities during WWII, earning him the nickname "Mr. Smooth." A few short months after celebrating his 85th birthday with spirited and inspired live performances, Irv has released the beautiful new CD "That's All?" (2004 Ding-Dong Music) with a crew of stellar jazzers. Irv Williams, together with Billy Peterson (bass), Kenny Horst (drums) and Peter Schimke (keyboards), shines on "That's All?".
Raised in Cincinnati and Little Rock, Arkansas, Irv Williams first settled in the Twin Cities in 1942 while serving in the Navy. His career has included stints with Fletcher Henderson, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Eckstine's orchestra and other jazz luminaries. Irv has performed in just about every jazz club the Twin Cities has hosted since WWII, including The Flame Bar where he split sets with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges. His warm tone and musical depth on the saxophone provide graceful magic whether he's swinging hard or revealing a ballad's every texture. An educator and mentor to countless Twin Cities musicians, Irv's contributions to the music scene go far beyond his estimable sax skills. Irv was the first jazz musician to be honored by the State of Minnesota with his own "Irv Williams Day" in 1984, and had his picture on the "Celebrate Minnesota" official state map in 1990. His many awards include induction into the Minnesota Jazz Hall of Fame. In August, the City of St. Paul declared two consecutive "Minnesota Jazz Pioneer Days" honoring the birthdays of Irv, Jeanne Arland Peterson and Cliff Brunzell.
"That's All?" is Irv's sixth release, and he has never sounded better. His respect and reverence for melody and his warm and wise tone bring the dozen tracks to very special places. On That's All?, Irv is joined by an outstanding cast of jazz veterans. Billy Peterson, whose bass mastery is prominently featured throughout, has played with everyone from Bob Dylan to Ben Sidran to Steve Miller. Peter Schimke's expressively engaged keyboards always add intricate dimensions to the music without ever distracting. Drumming is handled by two of the finest - Kenny Horst (AQ owner and sideman to countless jazz legends) and ex-Twin Citian/Natural Life member/California transplant Bill Berg.