Irv Williams

Prolific and playing with a quiet passion rooted in emotive sophistication, tenor saxophonist Irv Williams is negotiating his late 80s in rare style. This pair of gigs will mark the release of Finality (Ding-Dong), his fourth new album in as many years. Williams insists it will be his last, but that's hard to believe considering his active schedule and the sublime music he continues to play. Known as Mr. Smooth for the quality of his tone and unique touch in coloring a jazz ballad, Williams has been active on the Twin Cities jazz scene as a musician and educator for more than 60 years. Finality features a pair of superb original ballads, both of which sound like they're wafting on gossamer wings. "Debra's Dream" opens with a glistening duet between the sax and guitarist Loren Walstad before Williams takes over for a lovely solo foray that's deeply introspective but vividly etched. Meanwhile, the full band, which includes local jazz stalwarts Gordy Johnson (bass), Peter Schmike (piano), and Kenny Horst (drums), swings nicely on the Mercer-Arlen standard "Come Rain Or Come Shine," Williams's sax acquiring a few glowing burrs along the way, as well as on Duke Ellington's "Castle Rock," on which Williams and protégé Gus Sandberg engage in a fine blowing session.
Feb. 29-March 1, 9 p.m., 2008

 
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