ITEA Legacy Project Volume I by Marc Dickman
The Legacy of Rich Matteson
It is an honor and pleasure to have helped to select the tunes and clinic excerpts for the Rich Matteson Legacy Project. Mikki and I listened to many hours of performances on reel-to- reel, cassette, video, and compact disc. There is at least another hour’s worth of material that we had to choose from. From these recordings I heard. Rich always played fantastic, and this enabled us to select recordings with the best fidelity. We attempted to arrange the selections in a chronological and musical sequence. We decided not to use Matteson-Phillips Tubajazz Consort recordings because they are easily available through the Harvey Phillips Foundation. The CD Pardon Our Dust, We Are Making Changes is available from TAP Music Sales. Anyone interested in jazz should purchase these CDs.
To the generations of players who knew Rich, it is very important that the young musicians experience a small part of what he was all about. Rich Matteson was a very deep musician who commanded the respect from musicians, educators, and the thousands of students who he met. These selections are an attempt to bring some of Rich’s legacy into the 21st century. The clinic excerpts portray Rich’s profound ability to communicate with an audience. To accomplish this, he captured the listeners with a deep sense of swing and his inconceivable command of whatever instrument he was playing at the time (tuba, bass-trumpet, valve- trombone, piano, or euphonium). Rich would then switch to his “master of ceremonies’’persona, and with an incred ible sense of comic timing, have the audience rolling in the aisles in laughter to some exceedingly subtle jokes. Part of this he learned while working in Las Vegas with Ish Kabibble and Pete Barbutti. The other part was natural. More biographical information can be found in my article from 1992, “Rich Matteson: Portrait of an Original,” published in the T U B A Journal (Volume 19, Number 2, pp. 46-62).
This band was a pick-up studio date in 1959 or 1960. Rich was playing in Las Vegas with Bob Scoby. I was unable to find information on where this was recorded. When Rich was doing most of his clinic work in the 1970s and 1980s, he primarily played the valve-trombone and euphonium. The tuba was reserved for one tune like Doxy, and he would put a “Sanitized For Your Protection” strip over the bell as a gag. Many of us did not realize that Rich was a complete MONSTER on jazz tuba! N ew Baby captures Rich at one of his best performano The great jazz bass player Ray Brow influenced Matteson’s walking bassj lines. Rich was one of the first, if not the first tuba player to play a four-beat walking pattern on tuba instead of a constant two-beat style! These recordings were groundbreak-l ing and very influential to several generations of tuba players. His soloing is quite remarkable for his facility and over the top exuberance The tuba laying on these three tracks will place Matteson as one off the top jazz tuba performers ever.
Track 2; “Avalon,” (Rose) Remick,J ASCAP, Louis and The Dukes of Dixieland (Audio Fidelity 1960). Personnel: Trumpet and Vocal – Louie Armstrong; Trumpet – Frank I Assunto; Trombone – Fred Assuntoa Clarinet – Jerry Fuller; Banjo – Jack| Assunto; Piano – Stanley Mendelsohn; Tuba – Rich Matteson Drums – Owen Mahoney. This is the famous and rare recording from the Louis and the Dukes session from| 1960. Louis is at the top of his game and plays phenomenally despite some critics saying he was finished. Rich plays with authority and swing. There is little evidence that the Dukes were scared out of their wits to be actually performing with the person who practically invented jazz. The Assuntos and other members of he Dukes were years ahead of their time ;1ntheir adulation of Armstrong. In 1960, ‘Louis wasn’t “cool” among the jazz elitists that revered Miles, Monk, and Trane. It wasn’t until relatively recently that the critics and the jazz listeners agree on the fact that Louis was a complete master! In addition. The Dukes ofDixieland was the first band to record in stereo! More information about the Dukes can be found at www.thedukesofdixieland.com.
Track 3; “Sweet Georgia Brown,” (Casey-Bemie-Pinkard) Remick, ASCAP, Louis and The Dukes of Dixieland (Audio Fidelity 1960). See track 12 for personnel.
This is another selection from the ^Louis and the Dukes recording and is also another fine example of the 4/4 walking bass style. Anyone wanting to learn to play jazz tuba should transcribe this entire tune. A few things will become apparent: ; 1) Matteson’s time is flawless; 2) he uses repetition to help define the harmonic stmcture; and 3) he found inconspicuous places to breathe. The listener does not notice the breathing unless they are listening for it (but he does breathe). Matteson’s stamina is another aspect of his playing that deserves some attention. Playing tuba in a Dixieland band is one of the most difficult jobs in music, especially ifyou are playing 4/4 instead of two-beat. Ifyou have never played a gig on tubaand served as the bass player, you may not notice that you play constantly and get very little time to rest. All of the other horn players get to rest for several chomses during each tune. Rich plays these amazing solos after he had been playing constantly.
Track 4: Perfection in Music lecture by Rich Matteson (Recorded at the Navy School of Music, date not given). 2003 ^eqaciq oPwfect
Track 5: “Prisoner’s Song,” The Millionaires (Recorded at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas). Personnel: Trumpet – Pete Barbutti; Tuba/Bass Trumpet – Rich Matteson; Piano – Mike Woffard; Bass – Chuck DeLaura; Drums – Clay Campbell; Trombone/Trumpet – Tony Ardito; Vocal – Kay Brown. This band was lead by Pete Barbutti in Las Vegas. It was a very successful “commercial” band playing current pop tunes and jazz standards. Mikki and 1 listened to several tracks before we heard this fantastic tuba solo. Our jaws dropped and we just smiled. Rich was also the arranger and played bass trumpet.
Track 6:“I will Never Forget Old What’s Her Name,” by Phil Wilson Music, ASCAP, The Sound of the Wasp (ASl Records 1975; Recording & Mixing Engineer: Tom Loy, TM Productions, Dallas, Texas). Personnel: Trombone – Phil Wilson; Tuba/Valve – Rich Matteson; Guitar – Jack Petersen; Piano – Lyle Mays; Bass – Kirby Steward; Drums – Ed Soph.
This tune is based on the chord progression to All the Things You Are. The album is very rare and coveted by its owners. It is also Lyle Mays’s very first recording! Rich was the Clifford Brown of the tuba. He had an uncanny ability to use melodic ideas that show a complete and utter knowledge for the chord progression or changes. Lyle Mays said:
“I don’t remember when The Sound of the Wasp was recorded, but I was bom in November 1953 so you can work it out. 1do know that it was the first real recording session 1ever did, and I felt too young and inexperienced to be there. However, Rich was incredibly helpful and encouraging as he always was with aspiring students. It’s impossible to exaggerate the influence Rich had on me. He was by far the most important person in my musical life during those critical adolescent years when one’s knowledge base is being formed. Rich was the one who introduced me to so much about jazz, chord-scales, chord voicing, arrang ing techniques, even what records to get. But perhaps more importantly he imparted a love of learning about music in general that remains to this day. He also exemplified a generosity of spirit that made him one of the greatest ambassadors of jazz the educa tion field has ever had. 1will always feel gratitude for the many ways in which Rich touched my life and would not be the musician I am today were it not for him.”
Track 7: “The Sound of the Wasp,” by Phil Wilson ASCAP, The Sound of the W asp (ASl Records 1975; Recording & Mixing Engineer: Tom Loy, TM Produc tions, Dallas, Texas). Personnel: Rich Matteson – tuba; Phil Wilson —trombone; Jack Petersen – guitar. This is some unbelievable playing! Many facets of the jazz tradition are encompassed here, which include swing, creativity, virtuosity, audacity, humor, and energy. This tongue and cheek selection is legendary to the people who were fortunate enough to have a copy of this recording. A simple blues in the key of F launches Matteson and Wilson into a complex lacework of variations. Dig how each seamlessly alternates between solo ing and accompanying. Phil mentioned to me that this tune was used on the Dr. Demento radio show! Phil Wilson mentions:
“Rich was always a joy to work with. His love of life permeated everything he did. It didn’t matter much what the focus of his attention was – a recording session, running a jazz camp, playing a jazz club, rehearsing an ensemble of beginners, teaching a basic improvisation class, founding a collegiate jazz department, loving Mikki, running a publishing company, telling outrageous stories, dealing with travel agents, club owners, instrument company reps, parents, and the like. The list goes on and on. Rich’s brilliant, positive energy always led all of those involved through to a joyful, successful conclusion. His was a true leader, and I miss him.”
Track 8: “Apple Strudel and Cheese,” by Dave Wolpe, Copyright – MCMLXXll by Almitra Music Co. Inc., New York, N. Y. (Recorded Live Radio Show 1970s). Personnel not given. We weren’t sure when this was recorded because the original tape did not have a date. We think it was with a Scandinavian big band. The playing and fidelity were so good that we decided to use it. This is typical Rich! Track 9: M usic is a G ift lecture by Rich Matteson (Recorded at the 36th Annual All-Eastern Band and Instrumental Clinic, Navy School of Music 1992).
Track 10: “Georgia on My Mind,” Hoagie Carmichael arranged by Rich Matteson, The Jazz Ambassadors Live On Tour (Recorded Live at the National Association of Jazz Educators Convention January 1981; Producer: CWO Paul Chiaravalle; Recording Engineer: SP6 Tony Sturba; Supervising Engineer: MSG Dave Hegmann; Mastering Engineer: Bill Lightner). Personnel: The United States Army Field Band under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Paul Chiaravalle.
Rich loved this tune. He also arranged it for the Matteson-Phillips Tubajazz Consort and enjoyed performing it with small groups as well as big bands. The Jazz Ambassadors performed with professional ism and soul. Track 11: “Blue Bossa,” Kenny Dorham (Recorded Live at the 6051 Club, Dallas, Texas by Dan Haerle 1982). Personnel: Euphonium – Rich Matteson; Guitar – Jack Petersen; Piano – Dan Haerle; Bass – Kirby Stewart; Drums – Colin Bailey. Live from Dallas, Texas with his North Texas State University cohorts Jack, Dan, etc. Here, Rich gets to really stretch out and develop a solo. He is relaxed and supported by a world-class rhythm section. If YOU want to play jazz, try transcribing as much of this solo as you can. Jazz piano and teaching legend, Dan Hearle, adds the following:
“The sessions at the 6051 club were special. There was a great feeling of camaraderie among the players. Rich, Jack Petersen on guitar, Kerby Stewart on bass, Colin Bailey on drums, and myself. We had some consecutive nights booked and thought it would be a natural time to record. So we planned to record every night and pick the things we liked the best at the end of the engagement. We had a great time making music and came up with enough material for three albums! Unfortunate ly, there was no opportunity to produce any of them. All the tunes were standard repertoire and nothing was rehearsed in advance. So there was wonderful spontaneity and interaction between the members of the band. To me, recording “live” rather than in a studio gave these sessions their unique char acter. Rich loved to play for people and to interact with them when he was on the bandstand. The club had a good jazz listening atmosphere and there were many friends who came by to hear the group. 1think Rich really enjoyed those nights. His playing sure sounds like it! We all had a great time, and even though the club no longer exists, the musical memories of those nights will live on!”
Track 12: “Stella by Starlight” (Recorded Live at the 6051 Club, Dallas, Texas by Dan Haerle 1982). See track 11 for personnel.
From the same session as above. Rich also LOVED this tune. Stella is considered by many jazzers to be the ultimate jazz tune. The reasons are that the tune contains a balance of major key areas, minor and altered ii-Vs, and a bit of whole tone scale usage. Just when you think Rich has played a great chorus, he plays a more amazing one! We decided to excerpt Rich’s solos to save space on the CD. Everyone in the band plays at the highest level imaginable.
Track 13: “Undecided,” Charles Shavers arranged by Frank Mantooth (Recorded at the 1988 United States Army Tuba- Euphonium Conference). Personnel: United States Army Blues; Euphonium – Rich Matteson; Euphonium/Super Horn – Ashley Alexander. Ashley takes the first few choruses followed by Rich. Listen for Rich and Ashley when they alternate four-bar solos. This is also known as “trading fours” in jazz circles. The excitement builds as the band begins to play backgrounds and the soloists trade twos. Rich and Ashley knew each other for 20 years before this record ing. Rich was a traveling Getzen repre sentative when he met Ashley teaching at a high school in Oklahoma.
Track 14: Introduction to “Shuckin’and Jivin’” by Rich Matteson. This is a fine example of Rich’s style of humor. He was a great storyteller.
Track 15: “Shuckin’ and Jivin’,” by Rich Matteson, Mattesori’Phillips Tubajazz Superhoms LIVE!!! (RAM Legacy Produc tions, Recorded at the 1991 United States Army Band Tuba/Euphonium Conference). Personnel: Euphonium – Rich Matteson, John Allred, Buddy Baker; Tuba – Harvey Phillips, Dan Perantoni, R. Winston Morris; Guitar – Jack Petersen; Piano – Frank Mantooth; Bass – Lou Fischer; Drums – Rick Kirkland.
Rich, like many jazz musicians from his era, was not a huge admirer of rock and roll music. One reason for this may be that many of the so-called rock artists had little to no knowledge of basic music fundamentals such as reading and music theory. For many social and economic reasons, many skilled musicians from the swing era were being replaced by these youngsters, thus creating some resentment. It is ironic to me that Matteson was able to write such great rock tunes. The tune encompasses many traits found in both rock and jazz such as an infectious rhythmic groove, a 12-bar blues form, and a singable repetitive melody. Because of the length of the selection, we excerpted Rich’s solo. The complete track can be heard on TubaJazz Superhoms Live!!!
Track 16: “Cherokee,” Ray Noble arranged by Frank Mantooth as a tribute to Ashley Alexander (Recorded at the International Association of Jazz Educators – San Diego, CA). Personnel: The Ashley Alexander Alumni Band; Trombone – Rob McConnell; Euphonium – Rich Matteson.
“Cherokee” has been the litmus test for generations of jazz players. The reason is that the tune is often played at an extremely fast tempo, and the bridge section* starts in the key of B major. Rob McConnell and Matteson developed a relationship through Rich’s groundbreaking publishing company. Outrageous Mother. OM was the first to publish Rob McConnell’s arrangements in the United States. Rob starts with 2 choruses followed by Rich and then they trade fours for one chorus. Kudos also goes to the fine ensemble play ing by the Ashley Alexander Alumni Band. * The bridge of a tune is usually the B section in an AABA form.
Track 17: Louis Armstrong lecture by Rich Matteson (Recorded at the 36th Annual All-Eastern Band & Instrumental Clinic, Navy School of Music 1992). Track 18: “Limehouse Blues,” by P. Braham and D. Furber Wamer/Chappel J Music, Pardon Our Dust, We’re Making j Changes (1990). Personnel: Euphonium-‘ Rich Matteson; Guitar – Jack Petersen. J
All great musicians are multi-faceted, and “Limehouse Blues” is an excellent exampleofRich’slaid-backattitude.Jack and Rich were closer than brothers, and they were inseparable and traveled all over the world performing and teaching jazz. They helped to pioneer jazz educa tion and in many ways helped to keep jazz in our schools and universities. Jack was the theoretical mastermind behind the way jazz improvisation was taught by Rich. Jack said, “1worked out all of the theory and methods to successfully teach jazz improvisation, and Rich was a better salesperson.” Jack is also a virtuoso of the jazz guitar and is one of the world’s best accompanists. He said:
“The first time I met Rich Matteson was in January 1958 in Reno, Nevada. I was on the road with the Hal MacIntyre Band. We were appearing in the main ballroom of the Holiday Hotel. Rich was appearing in the lounge with a small group led by swing era comedian Ish Kabibble (Meryn Bogue) of Kay Kaiser fame. Rich and I immediately became friends. Two weeks later I left and didn’t see Rich until 1966 in Dallas, Texas. At that time Rich was a clinician for Getzen. We rekindled our friendship. Rich needed a place to stay, so I invited him to stay at my house. During this time we discussed and played music. We discovered we had very similar view points about music. From that point on. Rich and I were partners until the day he died. I was lucky to find a friend and colleague like Rich. I dearly miss him.”
More information about Rich Matteson can be found at his official web sight: www.richmatteson.com.
For Supplemental Reading
“T.U.B.A. Profile: Rich Matteson” by Donald Little, TUBA JOURNAL (Vol. 5:1, 1977)
“Rich Matteson: Portrait of an Original” by Marcus Dickman, TUBA JOURNAL (Vol. 19:2, 1992)