|David Matthews, the son of a Methodist minister, was born in Sonora, Kentucky on March 4, 1942. He was educated at the University of Cincinnati where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from its' Conservatory of Music.
From l966-68, David led a jazz dance band on tour in Germany and Italy. During the next two years he played in jazz clubs in and around Cincinnati.
From l970 to 74 he was the arranger and bandleader for James Brown Productions.
In l971, David moved to New York where he worked steadily as a free-lance arranger and writer. He worked on albums, singles, radio and TV commercials and film scores. He arranged or composed albums or tracks for Buddy Rich, Mark Murphy, Bonnie Raitt, T Bone Walker, Blue Mitchell, the J.B.'s, Starland Vocal Band, Stephanie Mills, Earl Klugh, Phoebe Snow, Donald Bird, Crystal Gayle, David Sanborn and Paul Simon.
From l975 - 78 David was the staff arranger for CTI Records writing, arranging and producing records for stars such as Nina Simone, Hank Crawford, Art Farmer, Joe Farrell, Ron Carter, Idris Muhammad, Jim Hall and George Benson.
David has arranged and composed radio and TV commercials for Sunoco, Texaco, Magna Vox, Champale, Welches, Mary Quant, Ford, NBC "Proud as a Peacock", "Reach Out" for A T & T, Sheraton, 7UP, Avon, McDonald's, Oldsmobile, Burger King, Nabisco, Clearisil and Life Savers. His commercial for 3m Tape won a Clio Award in 1975.
Matthews composed the scores for William Greaves great film "The Fight" featuring Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier, "Stony Island" produced and directed by Andrew Davis and "Bedtime Eyes" a Japanese film in which he not only wrote the music, but performed with his group, Manhattan Jazz Quintet. He orchestrated film scores for "Parallax View", "The Stepford Wives", "Night Moves" and "Washington D.C., A City Out of Wilderness".
In 1994, David wrote the film score for the "Space Battlecruiser Yamato", a series of 7 animated videos. In 2002 David composed the score for the Japanese horror film “Isola”.
From l979 to 1989 David had been an artist, producer and writer for King Record of Japan. He is the leader of what since l984 has been Japan's number one jazz group, "Manhattan Jazz Quintet". In Japan, the group (popularly known as the "new MJQ") has won "Swing Journal’s Golden Hit Award an unheard of 4 times
In February 1990, David signed an exclusive for Japan contract as an artist, producer and arranger with Sweet Basil Inc. an independent production company located in Tokyo.
David was the musical director for the original Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Concert in Central Park,
In Swing Journal's 1989 Reader's Poll, David was voted the #1 Arranger of the Year in Japan
In 1995, David and his co producer Shigeyuki Kawashima received the Swing Journal Critic's Award for producing the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra CD "Get It On". MJO and MJQ have continued to tour Japan and Asia in fact twice they have performed at events associated with the Olympics.
In 1998 and ’99 David was featured in a TV series, “Meikyoku Monogatari”, that was broadcast in Japan on a weekly basis. Those shows have been released in a series of DVD’s which is called “Panasonic Sound Essays”. Since 1986 David has toured Japan and other Asian countries yearly with either Manhattan Jazz Quintet or Manhattan Jazz Orchestra or both.
In 2001 The Milestone Label part of the Fantasy Group began releasing Manhattan Jazz Orchestra recordings in America to excellent reviews.
David continues to perform in Japan and produce, arrange and compose a variety of projects. In 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Swing Journal’s Readers Poll has voted Manhattan Jazz Orchestra the number one big band.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in David’s music both from his James Brown period and the music he’s written in the 1970’s. In fact he’s been sampled by many hip hop artists such as The Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Methodman and Redman and The Large Professor. In fact his album “Dune” is in the Hip Hop Hall of Fame.
David loves sailing almost as much as he does music. In order to keep mind and soul together he tries to spend at least three months of the year on his 31 ft. sailboat "Setting Sun" with his wife, Mattie.
Read an in-depth interview by Wax Poetics Magazine with David about his career and work work with James Brown and others.
David uses Sibelius music notation software.