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Will Matthews

Will Matthews – guitarist and composer

In the 1980’s the Kansas City born guitarist began playing in groups lead by some of the city’s world renowned recording artists beginning with the late trumpeter Carmel Jones who recorded with Horace Silver. Matthews also played and recorded with violinist Claude’Fiddler’Williams who was Count Basie’s first guitarist before Freddie Green. In 1989 Matthews had the opportunity to play a concert with pianist/vocalist Jay McShann’s big band and also with his quintet in 2003.

Grammy winning pianist and composer Dr.Ronnell Bright who after many years of accompanying and recording with vocalist like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and serving as musical director for the Flip Wilson and Carol Burnett shows decided to make Kansas City his home and Matthews has played in his quartet and trio.

For more than twenty years Matthews has been performing with longtime mentor pianist/vocalist Luqman Hamza whom he has recorded two projects with, When A Smile Overtakes A Frown and The Clear Sounds Of Jazz, and has been performing in various configurations with saxophonist Ahmad Alaadeen for about the same time span and recorded on the CD Alaadeen and the Deans of Swing Blues For RC and Josephine,Too.

Matthews has also had the opportunity to play one-nighters with a variety of artists coming through Kansas City such as Charles Earland, Freda Payne, Arthur Prysock, Jimmy Witherspoon, Carmen Bradford, Kevin Mahogany and Bobby Watson. Matthews played guitar and banjo for the Opera entitled “Treminisha” with music written by Scott Joplin. The D’Angelico NYL-2 violin color In 1996 Matthews joined the World famous Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of trombonist Grover Mitchell to fill the coveted chair of the late Freddie Green who was the guitarist in the group for over fifty years. Since joining the group Matthews has played on numerous recordings and two “Grammy Winning” recordings with the group. He has performed at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand and for President William J.Clinton’s second Inaugural in 1997.

During his tenure with the band Matthews has performed with a who’s who of artists such as Joe Williams,Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Nancy Wilson, Patti Austin, Marlena Shaw, Carmen Bradford, Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Cobb, Hank Jones and most recently, Nnenna Freelon. His debut recording Will Matthews Solo was released in November,2000. Matthews is currently touring with the Basie Orchestra.