Mars Williams has passed away on Monday, November 20, 2023, after 1-year long battle to terminal cancer.
As reported by Variety, Williams’ hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune confirmed the news of his passing while revealing that the cause of his death was an ampullary carcinoma, which he was diagnosed with a year ago.
The Grammy nominated saxophonist played a pivotal role as a member of the Waitresses during the band's brief yet influential period from 1980 to 1983.
He contributed to their distinctive tracks Christmas Wrapping, Square Pegs, and I Know What Boys Like, as well as playing saxophone on intricate album cuts like the title track of their Bruiseology, LP.
Shortly after the Waitresses’ split, Williams was asked by the Psychedelic Furs to step in for their sax man, who was a no-show on an overseas tour in 1983, which later turned into a whole era that extended up to 1989.
He later continued his collaboration with the band from 2005 until his last tour dates, concluding just last month in October.
Williams remained a 25 year long member of the Chicago group Liquid Soul, which picked up a Grammy nomination for best contemporary jazz record in 2001.
The Village Voice said in a statement, “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.”
In the meantime, iconic jazz figure John Zorn from Downtown wrote liner notes for an album that Williams collaborated on with Hal Russell, referring to him as “one of the true saxophone players — someone who takes pleasure in the sheer act of blowing the horn. This tremendous enthusiasm is an essential part of his sound, and it comes through each note every time he plays. Whatever the situation, Mars plays exciting music. In many ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player.”
The musician was also a part of various other groups throughout his saxophonist career, such as the NRG Ensemble, Trio No Mas, the Chicago Reed Quartet, the Mars Williams Music Book Orchestra, and Boneshaker. One of his recent noteworthy recordings is a saxophone solo featured in Kesha's rendition of Children of the Revolution in a tribute album produced by the late Hal Willner.
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