Monday, July 22, 2024

Matteo Mancuso Takes the Silkroad

Sicilian guitar virtuoso Matteo Mancuso released his debut album, The Journey, on 21st July via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group, now the latest single released from it is out and available digitally, and you can join the guitarist down the ‘Silkroad’ by checking out the new video here at RAMzine.

“I’m so happy to share the third official video of my album,” said the young guitairst. This song is called ‘Silkroad‘, and it’s dedicated to my hometown Palermo and its Arab-Norman roots. Hope you enjoy.”

It comes just ahead of his live appearance over here in the UK, when on Wednesday 27th September he’ll be playing his first ever show in the British Isles at the O2 Academy Islington, in London.

Talking about the show Mancuso  said, “This will be my first time playing in UK, I’m really excited pumped for this show and I’m sure we will have a lot of fun! Hope to see you there.” For those who can make it, tickets are available by clicking here.

Mancuso hails from Sicily, nestled in the Mediterranean Sea to the south of Italy. The island has always had a rich cultural heritage, from poets, writers, philosophers, and architects to painters and musicians. Born in 1996 and raised just outside the capital city of Palermo, the pedigree runs deep in the veins of those from the region.

At 12, he took his first steps onto the stage at a local jazz festival. Since then, his acquaintance with live performances has seen him blossom and develop through various line-ups and collaborations with the finest local musicians, including a duo with his father, where they explore the complexities of Django Reinhart’s repertoire and contemporary jazz classics. As a multi-faceted player, either classical or electric, what is astounding is his one-of-a-kind technique and use of his fingers instead of regular picking.

As a YouTube sensation, his channel is now at 142k subscribers, with his international fanbase growing, including some of the world’s most iconic, ground-breaking players who are declaring Matteo as a force to be reckoned with, from Dweezil Zappa to Joe Bonamassa, Steve Vai to Al Di Meola and Tosin Abasi. In 2017, as part of a trio called Snips, Matteo and his bandmates took on more jazz-rock and fusion elements; their version of ‘The Chickenhit 2.2 million views on YouTube.

Debut album The Journey features nine original songs recorded at Fico d’India Studios Casteldaccia, Sicily, by his father, Vincenzo Mancuso – a gifted player who also played on the record and co-wrote two songs, ‘Polifemo’ and ‘Blues For John’. The album also features Stefano India (Bass) and Guiseppe Bruno (Drums), with additional musicians Riccardo Oliva (Bass), Gianluca Pellerito (Drums) and Guiseppe Vasapolli (Piano/organ).

In July, Samba Partywas released as a single on all digital platforms, wherein Mancusco channelled the excitement and jubilation of a Rio de Janeiro during carnival – but the song itself is anything but samba.

“This is a strange one because, first of all, musically speaking, it doesn’t have anything to do with the samba style, but I wanted to write a happy major chord song and the thing I usually connect with giant happy parties with a lot of people is the carnival in Rio de Janeiro,” Mancuso explained. “The song’s main theme is inspired by samba rhythms, but I wanted a more modern groove. Gianluca Pellerito (drums) and Riccardo Oliva (bass) delivered this incredible groove, and I was super happy with the result. That’s why it’s probably my favourite song from the album.”

You can check out the video for the single right here at RAMzine, as you can ‘Drop D’, the first single release from the parent album.

Mancuso began writing songs for the album around 2020. “I didn’t really have a specific concept behind the album, but I wanted to do something that wasn’t associated with only one genre, so there are some rock-oriented songs like ‘Drop D’ and some modern Jazz tunes like ‘Polifemo’,” he said.

‘Drop D’ was one of the first songs written for the album, and pays tribute to his teens’ hard rock and prog influences such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Dream Theater. “It is a mix of typical rock and prog elements and one of the most fun songs to play live,” he said. Regarding th track ‘Samba Party’, he added. “This is a strange one because, musically speaking, it doesn’t have anything to do with the samba style, but I wanted to write a happy major chord song, and the thing I usually connect with giant happy parties with a lot of people is the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, so, that’s why ‘Samba Party’.

He has recently performed with Tommy Emmanuel in Palermo, and he shared the stage with Return To Forever’s Al Di Meola on classical guitar at the closing night of the Eddie Lang Jazz Festival and played at the Lugano Jazz Festival in Switzerland as a guest with prog-rockers PFM and what’s been described as “an incredible performance” at the New Ross Guitar Festival in Ireland.

2023 is now where The Journey really begins. From the age of 12, when he took his first steps onto a stage in Sicily, has all led to this moment – The precocious talent that led to the youngster becoming a YouTube sensation, to the acclaim from some of the finest guitarists of their time, to the stages graced across Europe and the ones he has shared with icons, to this moment – his debut album release of what hs been described as “nine deftly beautiful guitar instrumentals”.

“I just want people to hear it,”  Matteo Mancuso enthused. “Music has always been my favourite form of communication, and the thing I love about instrumental music is that there isn’t a language barrier. I’m sure that people that don’t usually listen to instrumental music can find something interesting from this album.”

It appears Matteo Mancuso isn’t going to be Italy’s best-kept musical secret for long, when he shares his music with the world on The Journey.

Tracks featured are: ‘Silkroad’, ‘Polifemo’,  Falcon Flight’, ‘ Open Fields’, ‘ Drop D’, Blues For John’, ‘Time To Leave’, ‘Samba Party’ and ‘The Journey’.

The Journey can be ordered by clicking here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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