Monday, February 23, 2009

Mat Mathews, accordion player, passed away

Mat Mathews, accordion player, passed away (English) Mat Mathews, accordeonist, overleden (Nederlands)

A rather extensive Mat Mathews Discography
Hans Koert
On the 12th of February, 2009 the Dutch accordion player Mathieu Schwartz passed away in Rotterdam aged 84 years old. He changed his name into Mat Mathews when he became a US citizen, as Mathieu was too hard to pronounce for Americans and he disliked his famiuly name Schwartz. He became famous in the 1950s as an accordion player in the New York jazz scene. This fact passed by almost unnoticed by the jazz scene and the news media. A shame !!
Born in The Hague, in the western part of The Netherlands, June 1924, he became fascinated to jazz thanks to a radio program he heard by the Joe Mooney Quartet on American Forces Networks (AFN) and he tried to play this "new" bebop music on his accordion. His first recordings were two glass acetates from 1944 with guitar player Peter Van Houten on the Van Wouw label. In the early 1950s he moved to the States and became one of the first to play jazz on his buttoned instrument. He played and recorded with musicians like Joe Puma, a New York guitar player, Carmen McRae, Oscar Pettiford and made numerous recordings under his own name for Dawn, Verve and Ariole. You can find an extensive Mat Mathews Discography below this contribution.

Adri Troost, guitar player and vocalist and Mat Mathews in Norway (1980s.)
Enjoy Mat playing in a fragment of a blues ( It Don't Mean A Thing ..) accompanied by a trio at the Bij Max Jazz Club (the club of Max Teeuwisse aka Max Teawhistle) in Den Oever (The Netherlands) July 1997.

One of those albums on the Dawn label is The Modern Art of Jazz by Mat Mathews with an all-star group featuring Art Farmer on the trumpet, Julius Watkins on the French horn, Gigi Gryce on alto saxophone, Herbie Mann on flute, Dick Katz at the piano, Joe Puma on guitar, Oscar Pettiford on the cello and bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. It's one of my favorite Mat Mathews albums. As his music didn't become a commercial success, he had to make a living as a studio musician, until he returned, disillusioned, to The Netherlands in the mid 1960s.
In The Netherlands he accompanied musicians like Rita Reys on one of her US tours and played with The Millers, a popular swing combo that played in the Benny Goodman style.
He became a studio musicians, arranger, producer and performed now and then, but his music never got the recognition it deserved. Other Dutch accordion players, that played jazzy sounds on their instrument, like
Art Van Damme in the States, Harry Mooten and Johnny Meyer in The Netherlands seemed to be more popular. The last decades he suffered from geriatric complaints and a weak health. I found an extensive series of articles in the Dutch language titled Mat Mathews by Piet Van Tienen ( Etten-Leur -The Netherlands) in the Doctor Jazz Magazine 179 - 180 -181 (2002-2003).
Love to finish with a fragment of a tune sung by Max Teeuwisse, better known as Max Teawhistle, featuring Mat Mathews on accordion, Jean Louis Van Dam at the piano, Ben Janssen on bass and Fred Van Opzeeland on drums.

Thanks to Jerry Priessen (Amsterdam) who pointed me to this sad news.
Hans Koert -

= Mat Mathews and Peter Van Houten: (Van Wouw) (1944)
= Mat Mathews Quintet (Brunswick) (1953)
= Mat Mathews Quartet (Brunswick) (1953)
= Mat Mathews - Accordion solos (at Carnegie Hall) ( Brunswick) (1954)
= Carmen McRae (Bethlehem) (1954)
= Carmen McRae sings Great American Songwriters (Decca) (1954)
= Jerry Vaughan (American Record Artist) (1955)
= Squeeze Me - The Jazz and Swinging Accordion Story (Proper 4CD box) ( 1955)
= The 4 Most + Bob Stewart Sing The Arrangements of Joe Derise (Dawn) (1956)
= Mat Mathews - The Gently Art of Love (Dawn) (1956)
= Mat Mathews - The Modern Art of Jazz (Dawn) (1956)
= The New York Jazz Quartet - Music For Suburban Living ( Coral)(1957)
= The New York Jazz Quartet - Adam's Theme (Elektra) (1957)
= The New York Jazz Quartet - Gone Native (Savoy) (1957)
= Joe Puma Quartet - Wild Kitten (Dawn) (1957)
= Four French Horns + Rhythm (Savoy)( 1957)
= Rita Reys acc. by Mat Mathews Combo ( Dawn) (1957)
= Mat Mathews Quartet At Newport (Verve) (1957)
= Mat Mathews and his All Stars ( Design) (1959)
= Bobby Dukoff - Off The Cuff (Vik) (1957)
= Bubber Johnson - (King) (1958)
= Mat Mathews ( JJM Prod.) (1959)
= Mat Mathews All Stars - Swingin' Pretty And All That Jazz (Design)(1959)
= Bob Stewart acc by Mat Mathews' Quintet - Let's Talk About Love (Dawn) (1960)
= Mat Mathews - Young Duke ( Valley Vue) (1960)
= Frans Van Bergen - Such Sweeet Swinging ( Regal) (1966)
= Frans Van Bergen - Violet On Velvet ( Regal ) (1968)
= The Millers (Art) (1968)
= The Millers - Miller '69 (Art)(1968)
= Sanny Day - Sunny Sanny ( Camden) (1968)
= Mat Mathews Tentette / Quartet ( MRE Records) (1969)
= Coen Van Nassau - Swingin' On The Malllets ( RCA/Camden) ( 1969)
= The Millers - Soft Swing in Stereo ( CBS) (1969)
= The Millers ( CBS) (1970)
= The Millers ( Delta) ( early 1970s)
= Mat Mathews Orchestra featuring Lee Towers ( Ariola) (1975)
= The Millers - Miller'76 (DSC Prod.) (1975)
= Buddy Tate Sextet (Riff) (1976-1977)
= The Millers (Delta) (1976-1977)
= The Millers ( Munich) (1972)
= Mat Mathews (Audiophile) (1986)
= North Sea Big Band - Big Band Den Haag .. And Friends ( CCS) (1992-1993)
= Mat Mathews Sextet - Meditation (Jazz World) ( 1994)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is too bad. Mathews made the accordion swing like few could. He also was noteworthy in that a young Herbie Mann played with him in the New York Jazz Quartet. They made two LPs for Elektra in the mid-1950s. Mathews and Mann also recorded 78s for Brunswick in 1954, I believe.

Cary G.
(78-l list)

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this update on Mat Matthews. I grew up listening to Dick Contino on radio but dumped him when I heard Art Van Damme and Joe Mooney play jazz accordion. Mat Matthews soon became another favorite. His star rose and, then, slowly faded with the years. I'd think about him from time to time but never heard much of his music past the 70's.

Keep up your good work.

Stan B.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently got hold of "The Modern Art of Jazz", finally! Mighty fine album, as has been mentioned by others in other threads (don't ask me where, I don't think there's a Mathews thread here). Had "Wild Kitten" for several years before, so I was familiar. Definitely one of the finest on the accordion, r.i.p.

organissimo jazzforum

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another original gone ..... R.I.P.

I have several of his albums - he was among those creative miscellaneous instruments players at that time, with Oscar pettiford, Julius Watkins, Herbie Mann ... these are all nice albums

Mike W
Organissimo jazz forum

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And recorded! on McRae selftitled debut lp and the first one on Decca (By Special Request), both reissued by Fresh Sound Records

The Modern Art of Jazz and The Gentle Art of Love are magical...
Also his backings on the Bob Stewart Let's Talk About Love lp, and the lone outing by the 4most, are great.

Mathews seemed to be known for introducing new names into the studio (McrRae, Stewart, Herbie Mann, etc) but does someone know something about a recording with singer Donna Brooks?
I Started a thread about it but since no one replied, I may find here an answer...
In the liner notes of Brooks (reissued by Dawn) lp, Mathews is stated as her musical mentor, getting her into the jazzfield. But the writer also refers to the fact that she debuted, as a guest singer, on one of his lp's.
Since Brooks is a remarkable singer (my opinion of course) I would love to hear that!

Was Mathews still married to Paulette Girard?Was she also Dutch? And which songs did they wrote together

Who can help me?
(Organissimo Jazz forum)

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Hans I remmber Mat. A great player.. An other great player was
Art VanDamme. Is he still with us? Bobby T.
(Dixieland list)

9:10 AM  
Blogger Fred P. said...

Never forget his early 45 CORAL 94064 EPC/ Germany 1953/4 record with a powerful live performance, a very stir up and tearing “Bag's Groove”. Also a very sophisticated “Study In Purple”, amazingly ”Night And Day” and an exciting Bernie's Tune. New sounds never heard before and never improved. As an impressionist painter he coloured tones and sounds. The only one who met this kind of level in a different way is Errol Garner. In his late seventies Mat showed this sometimes again with his less lithe fingers. A master in the world of music.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Fred Costello said...

Mat & I had a music store in Rochester NY during the early 1970's.
Mat never got the attention he deserved. He also had the best sounding accordion of all the jazz players. Quite a character...

4:11 AM  
Blogger Andromeda International Records said...

Being an old school record head, I had read up on Seeco Records several years back and was then first informed about their Dawn Records subsidiary. When I came across a used copy of "Let's Talk About Love" by Bob Stewart with The Mat Mathews Quintet (Dawn/Seeco), I was more than curious, hoping that I was purchasing one of those rare, long lost musical treasures. I was not put off by the plain black and white cover and photo. The moment the stylus dropped in the groove and Herbie Mann's flute floated through the speakers I knew I had hit the jackpot---even before Stewart's vocals had started. The true beauty of this entire album set is that neither The Mat Mathews Quintet nor Bob Stweart tries to go over the top with any of the songs. Each has found the perfect simplicity in each musical presentation; the genius of Mat Mathews' musical leadership allows the true vocal artistry of Bob Stewart to totally shine again and again. There is no one song that can be named as the best; all the songs are excellent and serve as one impeccable cohesive package. Of particular note is the great recording technique of Rudy Van Gelder Studios: the microphone placement leaves the finished product sounding like it is a pure stereo recording, although it is mono. Needless to say, every singer, including myself, craves to find a living Mat Mathews today to make an exquisite recording like Bob Stewart-"Let's Talk About Love," with the Mat Mathews' touch, along with a recording engineer that all understand "the vision" of the project and go for it---one listen to this superb album and you'll know Mat Mathews, Bob Stewart and company indeed grabbed the gold.---Angelo Alexander/Andromeda International Records

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw this. Took lessons from him in the 50's & 60's. He lived in Manhattan and then in Fairlawn, NJ. He played at a steakhouse in Fairlawn. He had 2 rottweilers and a very hot wife.

Through him met Milt Jackson, Woody Harris (songwriter), et. al. He was a cool dude.

Steve H.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Dave P said...

I married Mat's youngest daughter Melissa (Liesje) in 2008. We live in the US and at the time we were married, Mat was living in a very nice nursing home in Rotterdam. We flew to Rotterdam in October of 2008 to see him. We are so glad that we had the opportunity to see him as he past just a few months later. This was the only time I spent with Mat. It is a shame as I wish I could have gotten to know him better. I am also a professional musician and would love to have played with him at family gatherings etc.

As referred to in a previous post, Mat's "hot wife” was my wife's mother who also has passed. Her name was Wilhelmine and she definitely passed her hotness on to my wife. Wilhelmine was Canadian and the family had lived in NJ, NY, Holland, Toronto, and Atlanta in that order.

Another previous post asks if Mat was still married to Paulette Girard A/K/A Paulette Rubenstein. Interestingly, my wife had little knowledge of this but I had found a biography of Carmen McRae where Paulette talks of her marriage to Mat in the early 50’s. Therefore, we assume this was a previous wife that he didn’t openly discuss with the family.

Mat was definitely an interesting man and a pioneer in the jazz world. I have enjoyed learning about him from stories my wife tells as well as from information I have found on the internet. If anyone has other information we would be very interested.

Dave P

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your interesting commends you posted last week. It would be great to discuss this. Please contact me at
keepswinging at live point nl


12:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Wadowick said...


I am an accordionist: Jim Wadowick. I would like to get in touch with Dave P who is Mat Mathews son-in-law. I first heard Mat play in the early sixties in Cleveland. When I moved south to Troy, Alabama, I discovered Mat was living in Atlanto. I called him, wnt to his house (this was in the early nineties) where he welcomed me warmly. We spent the day taling shop, and he played for me for a couple of hours. His sife prepared and excellent supper for us. I met his son and I believe the daughter that Dave P married. I last saw Mat at the AAA convention in New Orleans in 1998 where I helped him lift his accordion down from the stage after he finished performing. He had the Hohner that is pictured in his last photos and video clips. But at the time of the Atlanta visit he had a midi accordion hooked up to three synthesizers.
I last talked to Mat via international phone hook-up after he had moved back to Holland.
Please furnish Dave P's e-mail address so I can contact him.

Jim Wadowick
Executive Director of the Alabama Accordionists Association.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ditto on contacting Dave.

Steve H. (see previous post).

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Dear Steve,

Contact me keepswinging at live point nl


8:38 AM  
Blogger Dave P said...

I am glad that several posters are interested in contacting me. Feel free to e-mail me at to discuss Mat further.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave & Hans:

I just sent you an e-mail. I sent Hans an e-mail in July, but never got a response. Please post a comment regarding receipt of this one.


Steve H.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Liane Curtis said...

My mom is Paulette Girard, Mat Mathews ex wife. She co -wrote with Mat and present at those sessions with Kluke (Kenny Kenny Clarck) and HIS wife at the time Carmen McRae... it was my mom who bet Mathieu she could get Carmen a record deal. She walked Carmen into Coral Records, went into Bob Thiele's office and he signed Carmen on the spot ... my mom has many stories which are of great Jazz historical value... great to see these reviews and unfortunate obituaries. Mat was always very nice to me as a child as well ... I have many fond memories.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Van Bialon said...

Matt Mathews was a treasure. I always enjoyed lis lyric improvs. Along with Leon Sash he was was one of my most respected Accordion Jazz artists. He had done musch to bring the Accordion into a true Jazz instrument in my mind.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi: I am an accordion player who studies with Leon Sash for many years. We were very close musically and spiritually. When I first heard Matt Matthews this year, I could hear the metaphysicial swing and sounds. Matt (like Leon) had some gift from another planet. However, Matt Mathews has a style unique all to his own which sets him abobe and apart. Thanks for the music Matt--RIP.


5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are interested in learning more about Mat Mathews, please visit

This site will continue to be updated and if you have additional information, video or photos to share, leave a message on the Contact Us page.

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Aida said...

Hallo Dave, ik kan zeggen dat Matt ook blij was om jullie te zien. Hij was een bescheiden nanga, wij wisten niet dat hij zoveel betekend had in de met name Bebop jazz.wij hebben samen met zijn ex schoondochter Jolie de laatste jaren met heel veel liefde voor Matt gezorgd. Ik ben zeker door hem op gewezen dat Muziek geen kleur kent. Matt had een voorkeur voor zwarte mensen. Hij heeft zich altijd geërgerd aan het feit dat zwarte muzikanten op de achtergrond werden gehouden. Dave, groetjes aan Liesje.

12:54 PM  

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