The smooth jazz sounds of Al Williams and his band

By Ben Westhoff

Saxophonist Al Williams and his band were only supposed to warm up the conventioneers with their smooth jazz sounds on Tuesday, “but there was such an overwhelming response they asked us to come back and play tonight and tomorrow night,” Williams says.

Drawn to the main stage like a moth to Kenny G, I talked to Williams just after he finished his warm-up. He says he came upon the gig via a guy named Ed Goeas, the producer of his last three albums who also happens to be a Republican pollster. Just a couple weeks ago Goeas floated the idea (“I said, ‘Okay…sure. Why not?’” Williams remembers) and now the group finds itself put up in a posh, undisclosed local hotel.

“We’re not supposed to say where,” imparts the charismatic, Heimie’s Haberdashery-dressed Northern Virginian. “Anarchists.”

The veteran tooter plays his political cards close to the vest, as well. “We don’t do politics at all,” he says. “We’re not Republicans or Democrats.”

So, um, does that mean he doesn’t vote? “Oh, I always vote,” he says. “We just don’t talk politics.”

Oh, and one more thing, please don’t refer to his music as smooth jazz (even though it is). Grumbles Williams: “I prefer ‘contemporary jazz.’”

The smooth jazz sounds of Al Williams and his band

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