Throughout his career, Mat Mathews fought an uphill battle to get the accordion accepted in bop-oriented jazz. He learned to play music during the Nazi occupation, and after the war ended, Mathews was inspired to play jazz when he heard a radio broadcast of Joe Mooney. He worked locally in Holland including most notably with the Millers from 1947-50. After moving to New York in 1952, he put together a quartet that for a time featured (and introduced) the young Herbie Mann on flute and tenor. Mathews' other sidemen included Art Farmer, Julius Watkins, Joe Puma, Oscar Pettiford, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke. In addition to making records as a leader, Mathews also recorded with Carmen McRae from 1954-55. By the end of the decade he was mostly working as a studio musician, and in 1964 Mathews returned to the Netherlands. His importance to jazz greatly lessened as he has primarily worked in the studios as a player, arranger and producer, but Mathews' performances in the 1950s made a strong case for the accordion in jazz. Mathews recorded as a leader for the Dutch Van Wouw label (four titles in 1944), Brunswick (1953-54), Dawn (1956), Savoy (a 1957 date with four French horn players), Verve (live at Newport in 1957), JJM, Design and, back in the Netherlands, Ariola (1975).
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