Review Summary: Charles Matthews Jr. Providing “Interpretations”
It is sad to note that mainstream urban R&B is starting to fade from the minds of Americans of every race, class. gender and religion. Overtaken by EMD, Rap, Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, and hip-pity hop-pity down the bunny trail, R&B is fighting for its rightful place on the world stage these days. That is why it is nice to get a project to review from an artist that not only has helped keep R&B alive by playing with some of the R&B greats, but also who has made some very fine recordings of his own. Very heartfelt and real, these recordings are exactly what is needed to keep R&B humming these days. Sophisticated and immaculately produced, keyboardist Charles Matthews Jr. delivers the goods on this new offering titled “Interpretations” (released on the Keyplexity label).
One of the stand out tracks here is the uptown funk of “Feel Like Making Love”. The bouncing foot drum tells the musical tale and the keyboard trickles down over it spreading licks like fairy dust, to make the listener go into that deep purple mood indigo kind of magic. The songs here all stay in the instrumental genre, and all are good examples for the listener to hear the range and depth of Mr. Matthews musicianship. These recordings have a smooth energy that goes down like a chilled martini on a warm city evening. Some of the keyboard sounds tread familiar ground that have been heard in Jazz, R&B and Pop music since the 1970’s. You can hear the elements of this music in the song choices.
“Betcha By Golly Wow” gets a new coat of paint and a sprucing up. Originally the hit was with the Spinners, but Charles gives the special treatment and turns the song into his own for the keyboards. From the synth strings that introduce the familiar melody he infuses it with a calm and deliberate energy that works so well. The artist has spent a lot of time on the road with various and well-known R&B and soul legends like the CHI-LITES, Shirley Jones and the Jones Girls, and Tyrone Davis. “Interpretations” is the name of this collection of songs, and you can tell after listening that it is a reflection of the artists own honesty and integrity. Just a bunch of great songs interpreted by a man who clearly loves playing them. Very fine production and sound coupled with great playing and arrangements is a “win, win” for everyone, including the artist and the audience.