Passings: Dave Carpenter, Ronnie Mathews

Last week, jazz lost two journeyman artists valued for their dependability, versatility and
Carpenter.jpgswing. On the west coast, bassist Dave Carpenter died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of forty-eight. Most recently, Carpenter had been in drummer Peter Erskine’s trio, which also included pianist Alan Pasqua. A veteran of the Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and Bill Holman big bands, he also worked with Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz, Al Jarreau, Herb Geller, Bill Cunliffe, Jan Lundgren, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco and Richard Stoltzman, to name a few. In as great demand in Los Angeles studios as he was in clubs, Carpenter has a list of recording credits as long as both of your arms. To see the list and hear brief samples, go here.

On Saturday, pianist Ronnie Mathews died in New York of pancreatic Matthews.jpgcancer. He was seventy-two. Mathews toured and recorded extensively with Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Dexter Gordon, Louis Hayes, and Woody Shaw. He had long associations with tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, drummer T. S. Monk, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. See and hear him in this video clip of Griffin’s quartet. Ignore the superfluous list of personnel from YouTube; the rhythm section is Mathews, drummer Kenny Washington and bassist Ray Drummond. The locale is the Village Vanguard in New York, not somewhere in Europe. Otherwise, YouTube got it right. Due to the site’s ten-minute limit, the performance fades away before it ends, but it provides a generous idea of Mathews’ skill as an accompanist and a soloist.

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  1. Bill Kirchner says

    Ronnie Mathews’ death was expected, though of course a saddening event nonetheless.
    But Dave Carpenter’s is a genuine shock. I met him during his days on Buddy Rich’s big band in the early ’80s.
    In 2000, I was in L.A. for a week, and guitarist John Stowell had a trio gig at a club there and invited me to come and sit in (on soprano saxophone). He had Dave on bass and Kendall Kay on drums, plus guitarist Paul Bollenback also was in town and sat in. I’ll never forget the sound of that ad hoc quintet.

  2. Steve says

    I have a lot of Buddy Rich vids and Dave Carpenter is on some of the ones from 84′ He was sooooooo good. What a terrible loss! He is swinging hard up there with Buddy!!

  3. says

    I’m a chilean professional bass player. I met Dave Carpenter in LA in 1997 while is was living and playing there. This is a terrible loss for the bass scene, even more tragic considering that he was only 48 years old. Such a talented and gifted bass player and musician.

  4. Red Colm O'Sullivan says

    Ronnie Mathews was, to me, a giant. The number of essential records he was on speaks for itself, and the records he made as a leader should really be checked out too: “Doin’ The Thang”, with Freddie Hubbard, “Roots, Branches and Dances” with Frank Foster and Al Foster as sidemen, and, my favourite, the trio “So Sorry, Please” with Alvin Queen. But he was also a greatly, greatly loved and centrally valuable member of New York’s jazz community. He was the centre of a lot of the city’s musical life – he was very great!
    Also, does anyone know how it came to be that this great bassist, Dave Carpenter, died of a heart attack at such an improbable age? What a marvellous musician.

  5. jerome taylor says

    Yes, two great musicians, Ronnie Matthews and Dave Carpenter are gone. It seems we never get enough of the great performances that are out there. We must enjoy every minute of everyday that we are blessed to have.

  6. Paula Morris says

    Today is March 1, 2010. While surfing the jazz websites I just came across the news that Dave Carpenter passed away. This is a big shock to me. I first met Dave while he was with the Woody Herman band on a jazz cruise. I immediately was drawn to his playing. The next week when Buddy Rich came on board I told him about Dave. I remember what he said to me…”he’s a great player but he now wears a ponytail.”
    About ten years ago while in California, I saw him at the Redondo Beach jazz festival,(Cool Jazz.) He was such a humble guy.
    I will keep him in my thoughts.
    Paula, daughter of Maxine Sullivan

  7. says

    i used dave on every thing i could -two albums ” the three of us’ the mort weiss trio dave,me and ron eschete”-the four of us” dave-ron-roy mccurdy and my self-live at steamers. i always gave dave as many choruses as any of us-he was playing lines no matter the tempo. hear him on “my secert love ” on my three of us album-two f*****g choruses at tempo 300-metronome setting. with eschete laying down a great comp for him. i first met dave when terry gibbs and i did some club dates-terry got the cats tom rainer – dave -gerri gibbs and ron eschete you can see this mediam rare shoot on youtube (mort weiss-terry gibbs ) i would use dave on any club dates i had we used to play charlie os and steamers together-dave was very hip to all facets of art -one of his things was looking for and buying paintings . great sense of hummer -and knew about every twilight zone ever done-i guess he was a zoney! my album ” ALL TO SOON ” (apprapos ) was dedecated to him. P.I.R. dave-he would have dug that. keep the faith ya all.