Mars Williams, a saxophone participant recognized for his work as a member of the Waitresses and later the Psychedelic Furs, died Monday at age 68.
His hometown newspaper the Chicago Tribune first confirmed Williams’ passing and reported that the reason for loss of life was ampullary most cancers. Williams was recognized with the uncommon most cancers a 12 months in the past.
Williams’ sax was a key factor of the Waitresses throughout the group’s quick however impactful two-album tenure in 1980-83, heard on the signature songs “Christmas Wrapping,” “Sq. Pegs” and “I Know What Boys Like” in addition to saxophone-heavy deep cuts just like the title observe of their “Bruiseology” LP.
The Waitresses’ break up roughly coincided with Williams being requested by the Psychedelic Furs asking him to sit down in for his or her absent resident sax man on an abroad tour in 1983, which become a tenure that prolonged by way of 1989. He then resumed his work with the Furs from 2005 by way of his ultimate tour dates with the band, which wrapped up simply final month October.
Most of Williams’ work fell on the jazz facet, nonetheless, notably with ensembles with an experimental bent.
Among the many dozens of teams he performed with, Williams was for 25 years a member of the Chicago group Liquid Soul, which picked up a Grammy nomination for finest modern jazz document in 2001. “Poised to rattle your headspace, Chicago’s premier funk-jazz ensemble Liquid Soul have been combining bebop with hip-hop since 1994 with muscular horns, tongue-cutting rappers, and turntable-infested rhythms,” wrote the Village Voice.
Downtown jazz legend John Zorn wrote liner notes for an album Williams did with Hal Russell in 1984 and referred to as him “one of many true saxophone gamers — somebody who takes pleasure within the sheer act of blowing the horn. This super enthusiasm is an important a part of his sound, and it comes by way of every notice each time he performs. Regardless of the scenario, Mars performs thrilling music. In some ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the trendy saxophone participant.”
Among the many rock and jazz musicians Williams performed with dwell or on document, as listed on his web site, have been Billy Idol (on the “Insurgent Yell” tour), the Killers, Energy Station, Wayne Kramer, Ministry, Invoice Laswell, Charlie Hunter, Soiled Projectors, Billy Squier, DJ Logic, John Scoffield, Kurt Elling, Jerry Garcia and the Untouchables.
Williams’ distinctive sensibility might be present in how yearly, up by way of 2022, he led what was billed as “an Ayler Xmas Tour,” combining the music of free-jazz nice Albert Ayler with Christmas carols.
Williams led or participated in lots of different ensembles as nicely, together with the NRG Ensemble, Trio No Mas, the Chicago Reed Quartet, the Mars Williams Music E-book Orchestra and Boneshaker. Amongst his better-heard current recordings was a sax solo on Kesha’s cowl of “Youngsters of the Revolution” on a T. Rex tribute album produced by the late Hal Willner.
The musician was born in Elmhurst, Illinois in 1955 and got here up enjoying classical clarinet for 10 years, beneath the affect of his trumpet-playing father, earlier than switching to saxophone. He cited Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker as his first main influences, falling beneath the sway of Ornette Coleman afterward.
Williams had been sober for 20 years and was energetic with serving to struggling fellow musicians by way of the MusiCares program.
A present this coming Saturday night time at Chicago’s Metro had been designed as a profit for his medical care, however will now function a celebration-of-life occasion. Richard Butler, Zachary Alford and Wealthy Good of Psychedelic Furs, Ike Reilly and Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band are anticipated to sit down in on a live performance led by Williams’ longtime bandmates in Liquid Soul.