Keyboardist David Matthews has been, among other things, a steady source of funk, whether drinking it in from the sweat of the rhythmically innovative soul godfather James Brown or attempting to pour it over the head of the somewhat wimpier Paul Simon. Trends for better or worse that Matthews has been associated with since the '70s also include the CTI sound, an exhaustive list of television soundtracks and commercial advertisements, and a series of critically praised releases by the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra. He should not be confused with the Dave Matthews of jam band fame, nor the earlier arranger and reed player from the big-band heyday, although both of them appear to have worked for Frank Sinatra at one time.
A graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor's degree in composition, Matthews began his performing career as the leader of a dance band in the late '60s. This group toured extensively in several parts of Europe and Matthews also began establishing a presence on the Cincinnati jazz scene. The next move was a big one; in 1970 he began working as both an arranger and bandleader for James Brown, making it possible for him to relocate to New York City and utilize the Brown connection in order to garner steady freelance assignments. His clients included demanding performers such as drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich, singers Mark Murphy and Bonnie Raitt, and the Starland Vocal Band, among many others. In the mid-'70s he became staff arranger for the CTI label, resulting in a series of smooth productions that were loved by some jazz buffs and loathed by others. Matthews formed his own groups from this period on, including the Manhattan Jazz Quintet. He scored many films for Hollywood, such as The Parallax View, the first version of The Stepford Wives, and Night Moves. He also has had quite a high profile for his activities in Japan. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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