In Memoriam: Ron Mathewson
British jazz bassist Ron Mathewson has passed away after contracting COVID-19. He 76 years old. The news was shared on social media and on LondonJazzNews.com, where Dave Holland paid tribute to him:
“The way Ron Mathewson played the bass was an inspiration to me and during the time that I lived in London I heard him play on countless occasions,” he wrote. “I was a couple of years younger than Ron and learned so much from watching and listening to him play. In addition to a beautiful sound and a great rhythmic feel on the instrument, he had such an inventive way of approaching the supportive role of the bass. His playing was built on the foundations laid down by the masters of the instrument but he was always exploring and reaching for new ideas and his soloing could range from being beautifully melodic to fearlessly explosive. Seeing him play made you aware of what was possible on the instrument. His contribution to music will be remembered and the stories and anecdotes about him will be spoken of and repeated for years to come.”
Mathewson was born into a musical family in the port town of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. He began his studies on classical piano until he was sixteen when he switched to bass. He moved to Germany to play in a professional Dixieland band in 1962 and soon after moved to London. His foothold in London became stronger and stronger, and he was often called in as a sideman for big name performances and recordings: Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Ben Webster, Joe Henderson, and Stan Getz, to name a few.
He became a regular member of the Tubby Hayes band from 1966 to 1973. In 1977, he joined Ronnie Scott’s quintet and routinely performed with the saxophonist at his legendary London jazz club.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ron Mathewson.