It feels like the longest wait in Irv Williams’ nearly 98-year-old life: The time between getting dressed up and the moment he actually climbs onstage. “Feels like a hundred thousand minutes,” he said with a rueful chuckle. But once someone — usually guitarist Steve Blons — picks him up from the Episcopal Homes in St. Paul, time has a way of melting away. Construction on Nicollet Mall has reduced the crowds for Williams’ Friday happy hour shows at the Dakota Jazz Club, but there’s sure to be a large, enthusiastic audience when the saxophonist celebrates his 98th birthday Sunday at the Dakota (7 p.m., $15). “Every time I have ever played,” he said at home the other day, “I sincerely tried to turn everyone on.” Those in attendance will hear the oldest working musician in jazz, someone who once played with Louis Armstrong, and turned down offers to tour with Duke Ellington and Count Basie. The sheer weight of his instrument can be a problem for Williams. “It’s getting about time for me to say ‘bye,’ you know?” he said. And yet two minutes later, he said he would prefer a schedule of six nights a week to keep his chops honed. Asked how he’d like to be remembered, he thought for a minute, then replied with a mischievous grin: “That he was on time. Always on time.”BRITT ROBSON
“Empire” is turning over the keys to the kingdom to Prince. The fourth episode of the Fox drama’s upcoming season will pay tribute to the late Minneapolis artist, including a rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” by series stars Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray, while other cast members, including Terrence Howard, will be dressed up for a Prince-themed party. “He would have loved this,” said Howard, who became friends with Prince around 2000 when both were studying to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prince had an even stronger bond with “Empire” executive producer Sanaa Hamri, who directed videos for “Black Sweat,” “Musicology” and “Call My Name.” Hamri said she and Prince had been writing a separate TV show — a project that is still very much alive. She will direct the episode. “I’ve always protected his imagery and I’m still doing it now,” she said.
No ‘Go Crazy’
Speaking of “Let’s Go Crazy,” Bruno Mars, who performed that song on the Grammys last winter, rehearsed it during his preconcert sound check Saturday at Xcel Energy Center. But he wound up sticking to his standard set list. Maybe Mars, who had visited Paisley Park earlier in the day, got cold feet with Prince’s sibs Omarr Baker and Tyka Nelson in the house. During “Marry You,” he did play a brief guitar passage from “Purple Rain”after pointing his finger heavenward.
On the runway
Lizzo won’t play Saturday’s State Capitol celebration, as we reported last week, but the MIA hip-hop star did pop up in a new video promoting “Project Runway.” It features the Lizzo song “Worship” along with footage of dancing “Runway” personalities Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia — and, of course, Lizzo herself, grinning and twirling through the streets in a gauzy pink dress. Minneapolis-based designer Samantha Rei is among those competing in the 16th season of the series, premiering Aug. 17 on Lifetime.
They may not have played a role in “Fargo’s” successful jump to the small screen, but Joel and Ethan Coen will direct and write all six parts of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” a Western anthology coming to Netflix sometime next year. “We are thrilled for Netflix to become home to the full range of their talents,” said an executive for the streaming service. Details are scanty but Coens regular Tim Blake Nelson will star in the limited series set on the American frontier.N.J.
‘Six Feet’ to ‘9-1-1’
Ryan Murphy is getting into the procedural business — and he’s bringing one of Minnesota’s highest-profile actors with him. The creator of everything from “Glee” to “American Horror Story” will produce “9-1-1,” a Fox series about the high-pressure experiences of police, paramedics and firefighters. Peter Krause, who grew up in Minnesota before going on to high-profile roles in “Six Feet Under” and “Parenthood,” will co-star alongside Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, with a premiere expected in 2018.N.J.
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