Art Matthews


picture of Dad

A musical vocation came early to Art Matthews. His father (in photo) Dr. Artie Matthews (1888-1958), was an innovator in Ragtime and Blues music. He lived in St. Louis, Missouri a few years after the turn of the century and was regarded as the best "sight reader" and all-around musician on the scene. He was the "house" composer and arranger for Tom Turpin's Booker T. Washington Theater. He was also the staff writer and principal arranger and orchestrator for Scott Joplin's publisher, John Stark. His Pastime series proved to be a modernization milestone in the evolution of Ragtime music. Listen to Pastime Rag #4 by clicking your left mouse button on the underlined title or the play button on the audio player. Dr. Matthews was the very first person in the United States to arrange and publish a blues. Baby Seals Blues (1912) is the first song with the word "blues" in the title to appear in the records of the Library of Congress. His Weary Blues, a mega-hit in the 1920's, was played and recorded by some of the best musicians in the business: Louis "Sachmo" Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, Erskine Hawkins, Jelly Roll Morton, The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra --even Lawrence Welk and the McGuire Sisters weighed in on this one. Dr. Matthews founded the Cosmopolitan School of Music in 1921 where Art began his musical education. He studied with his dad and continued pursuing his studies independently until he moved to the East Coast.

From 1975 through 1990, Art taught jazz arranging and jazz piano as Artist-in-Residence at the New England Conservatory, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Hampshire College, and Tufts University.

Lending his talents to other groups has taken Art across the country and abroad on extensive tours with Archie Shepp, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Lester Bowie, and Fontella Bass, to mention a few. Art was featured at the Montreux Jazz Festival as pianist with a quartet that had Lou Donaldson on alto, Eddie Gomez on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums. He has also played many pick-up gigs with a variety of musical artists like Etta James, Kool & the Gang, Sonny Stitt, Arnett Cobb, Junior Cook, Dizzy Reece, Bill Pierce, Charlie Rouse, Wallace Roney, Bob Mover, Alan Dawson...again, to name a few.

Art's last performance format was known as the Art Matthews Pocket Orchestra. This was a one-man-band format that featured Art's contemporary arrangements for his computerized rhythm section and orchestra which accompanied his real time MIDI keyboard playing. Go to the AMPO Listening Gallery to get an idea of how it sounded.

During an eight-month 1994 West Coast Tour, Art was commissioned by Rainbow America and teamed up with Brian Neumiester, (sound effects master for Terminator II), to compose, arrange, and produce music for Air Havoc Controller (a CD Rom game released by Tri-Mark Interactive).

Scheduling and pricing information are available upon request by email.

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