Mat Mathews

Swingin' Pretty and All That Jazz

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Mat Mathews played pushbutton accordion in his homeland of the Netherlands, but his American records failed to catch on with jazz collectors. This 1959 Design LP was, evidently, the last album he made in the United States before he returned home. His unusual sextet includes guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, harpist Gene Bianco, bassist Vinnie Burke, violinist Gunnar Hansen, and percussionist Teddy Sommer. Part of the difficulty in appreciating Mathews' work is that the pushbutton accordion is not as powerful an instrument as its cousin with a keyboard; as a result, the leader's solos don't particularly stand out. Pizzarelli easily takes top honors in the solo department, especially in "Honeysuckle Rose," though Hansen shows flashes of potential throughout the sessions. Since jazz accordion fans are a relatively small group, there's always a chance for them to stumble across this long unavailable release in the bargain bins of used record stores.

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