Rod Dibble at the Alley
3325 Grand Ave, Oakland, 510-444-8505
A tattoo of stride piano great Fats Waller adorns David K. Mathews' muscular right upper arm, clearly visible when he wears tight-fitting sleeveless T-shirts on the streets of his native Berkeley and on stages with the likes of Etta James (with whom he's toured and recorded for the past eighteen years), Maria Muldaur, Chris Cain, and his own piano and organ combos. And, it's said, images of James Booker and Nat Cole appear on his chest. The influences of those and other pianists, as well as of such jazz organists as Chester Thompson (whom he replaced in Tower of Power at age 23) and Don Patterson, are also embossed on his brain, and he melds blues, bop, post-bop, rumba boogie, stride, and salsa seasonings into a personal approach marked by jaw-dropping virtuosity and sprinkled with smile-inducing improvised surprise. There are few keyboard players on the planet as versatile as Mathews.