Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Matthews, Will (Willie Lee)

Matthews, Will (Willie Lee), guitarist; b. Kansas City, MO, 29 April 1957. His father is Willie Robert Wrice (b. 1934). His mother is Nancy Lee Wortham (b. 1938). His sister is Guybrett Shores (b. 1955). His brothers are Michael Matthews (b. 1960) and Gary Wortham (b. 1961).

As an adolescent Will was first exposed to the guitar by his grandfather Joseph Matthews Sr., better known as Little Joe (b. 1900-1984), who played the instrument for his own personal enjoyment and would entertain family and friends upon visits to his home. Will never studied with his grandfather but had many aural lessons. At age 13 Will started playing the guitar studying privately at Jenkins Music and later with Herley Dennis in Kansas City. By age 15 Matthews started playing in church with gospel groups. By age 17 he was playing and traveling with R&B groups, and by age 19 he was touring overseas. During this period Matthews was introduced to jazz by hearing guitarist Kenny Burrell. He regards George Benson, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Parker as important influences as well. During the 1980's and 90's Matthews performed with Carmel Jones, Claude 'Fiddler' Williams, Jay McShann, Dr. Ronnell Bright and a variety of one-nighters with artists performing in and around the Kansas City area like Jimmy Witherspoon, Charles Earland, Freda Payne, Arthur Prysock, Bobby Watson and Kevin Mahogany. Matthews played guitar and banjo for the Opera entitled "Treemonisha" with music written by Scott Joplin. In 1996 Matthews joined the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Grover Mitchell and has recorded on two Grammy Winning CD's with the group. He has performed at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand and in 1997 for William J. Clinton's Inaugural. Matthews has performed with a who's who of artists such as Joe Williams, Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Schuur, Milt Jackson, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Marlena Shaw, Patti Austin and others.

In 1994 he married for the first time to Mary Marguerite Hernandez (b. 1965). His son is Rodney Eugene Miner (b. 1979) and his daughter is Mikayla Marlene Matthews (b. 2003).

Will Matthews Solo (2000)
As sideperson:
(CBO stands for Count Basie Orchestra); Various artists: The Clear Sounds Of Kansas City Jazz (1989); Queen Bey Featuring Claude Fiddler Williams: Dues Paid In Full (1990); Alaadeen & The Deans of Swing: Live on the Plaza (1990), Blues For RC and Josephine, Too (1995); Tito Puente and India w/CBO: Jazzin' (1996); New York Voices w/CBO: Live at Manchester Craftsman's Guild (1996); Rosemary Clooney w/CBO: At Long Last (1997); Count Basie Orchestra: Count Plays Duke (1998); Swing Shift (1999); Luqman Hamza: When A Smile Overtakes A Frown (1999)

Radio and television broadcasts:
Performance at KCPT Broadcasting for BET on Jazz w/Alaadeen & The Deans Swing 1995; NHK Japan Broadcasting w/Count Basie Orchestra 1998; NPR Live Radio Broadcasts Count Basie Orchestra w/Tito Puente 1997; NPR Live Radio w/Count Basie Orchestra 2000; NPR Live Radio from Chicago Jazz Festival w/CBO 1999-2001; NPR Toast of the Nation New Years Celebration w/CBO 2002-03;; Radio Broadcast CBO w/Joe Williams in Salzburg, Austria 1998; Radio-TV and Internet Broadcast for Jazzfestival Basel w/ CBO,  www.avo.ch 2001; Interviews on KCSM Radio San Mateo, Ca. 1997-98 ; KKFI Radio Kansas City  2001

Unissued videos:
Unissued videotapes w/CBO Jazz at Midnight in Kansas City 1996; Documentary Films CBO w/Joe Williams at Hamilton College in NY 1996; CBO in Bangkok, Thailand 1996; CBO in Beirut, Lebanon 1999;  CBO w/Michel Leeb 2000

Unissued recordings:
Unissued CD CBO w/Joe Williams Live at the Blue Note NY 1997; Web-Casts CBO w/Kenny Burrell at the Blue Note 1998 ; ntjazz.com CBO 2003

Newspapers / Magazine articles:
The Call Newspaper, KCMO, interview Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, 1996; The Kansas City Star, Sept. 14, 2001;
PitchWeekly, Feb. 10 - 16, 2000; Jazz Ambassador Magazine, Aug. / Sept. 2001
Feature article in JAM Magazine (Jazz Ambassador Magazine) Aug/Sept 2004 issue. 
CD Reviews:
Jazz Ambassador Magazine, Feb. / Mar. 2001;
Cadence, July 2001 Vol. 27


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