Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Keyan Williams now makes his home in Meriden,
CT after many years in Phoenix, AZ. The multi-talented musician started playing the sax at
age 8 and by the age of 16 he was playing jazz sax and classical flute. When saxophonist
Keyan Williams released his debut album The Art of Living in 2006, the smooth jazz format
was already contracting, leaving steep challenges for new independent artists to find
avenues to get their music heard. One of his radio station contacts suggested some unique
grass roots approaches to promotion, including placing the tracks up on GarageBand in the
contemporary jazz category. Williams' tunes created an immediate sensation, averaging
a rating of 4.5/5 stars; the most popular of these songs, "Thought I Told You About That"
stayed on the chart for over four months, leading to terrestrial airplay on stations in Phoenix
(where Keyan lived from 2000 to 2008 and recorded The Art of Living with musicians
Jeremiah Norah and Raymond Love) and Reno. Williams also submitted his CD to The
Weather Channel, which spun four tracks for over a year and a half, exposing his music
to millions of people. Another sweet success from the album was the techno-house/jazz
influenced tune "Swift Kick", which was a huge hit on the college radio circuit. Williams was
also one of only four artists chosen (out of 400 entrants) for a digital distribution deal with
Iris Distribution via Sonicbids—and the only jazz artist.
The Brooklyn born and raised, NYC based Williams built such an enthusiastic fan base that
his few years away from recording due to personal issues and other business endeavors led
many of his supporters to reach out asking when he would be back in action, and supporting
him every step of the way as he did so. While still grounded in the style of his personal
musical hero Grover Washington, Jr., Williams takes some outside the box risks on his
second full-length project It's All About You. Explaining the title of the album, he says,
"While my fans were asking me about the next CD, they would tell me what they loved
about the first one. So I decided to create a CD based on what they said they loved. It's
about my fans, those people who kept me uplifted during this challenging time in my life.
I'm always writing songs that reflect everything I'm going through, and my goal was for
them to identify with my music. I started out with 25 songs and chose the ones that stuck
with me and which I felt they would enjoy best."
Williams is the founder of Told U So Productions, a company for which he works on
developing artists while he continues writing and producing. In addition to his own
projects, he is currently collaborating with other artists, looking into producing two singers
and working on a project combining poetry and jazz with four poets. He is also a major
endorser, with nine total endorsements for mouthpieces, reeds, mics and sax accessories;
he is an endorsee of P. Mauriat Saxophones. He has performed for several of these
companies at the NAMM convention over the past few years.
Truly a diverse and dynamic work centered around solid grooves, infectious melodies and
emotional and inventive improvisations, It's All About You launches with the laid back, old
school cool funk (with hand clap percussion and few ambient and exotic twists) of "Blazin'"
before bubbling over on the strutting, buoyantly romantic (and perfectly titled) "Bounce
With It." Williams then invites his listeners to the "Funky House (where a snappy electric
guitar leads into an easy flowing, gently percussive melody) for some sizzling "Indigenous
Heat" (a dreamy and sensual bit of late night smooth featuring Williams on soprano). The
title track opens with a trippy synth atmosphere, and then evolves into a graceful soprano
ballad that opens the saxman's heart to his fans via a little romance and a touch of horn
texturing. The pocket groove ballad "Midnight Blue" blends sensual wistful light funk with
a hypnotic soprano sax-synth swirl. One of Williams' favorites is the sensuous, candlelit
"My Lady", a sweet balmy love affair with lush synth string textures. Williams takes us on a
whimsical stroll through his hometown on the slow jam ballad "Sax 5 th Avenue", then gets
tribal and shuffling with some creative percussion, which drives the edgy and emotional
melody of "Steppin' Out With Key". He closes with a colorful gospel blues number, "Why
Not," which features a dynamic organ textures swirled with percussive piano chords—truly a
dramatic ending for a powerful set of music.
As a student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, he played in the marching band,
participating in halftime competitions against the bands at schools like Grambling. He
launched his career back in New York playing in blues bands. Influenced by Grover
Washington, Jr. as well as other greats like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery
and Stanley Clarke, Williams has been gracing the stage since his very early years, playing
at various venues like Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall—and the trendy club Jazzmania—
in various band situations during his high school and college days. He has had the honor of
sharing the stage with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Junior Cook—experiences that have
helped make him the performer he is today.