Guitar virtuoso Matteo Mancuso Channels The Jubilation of Rio de Janeiro During Carnival on “Samba Party”

Article Contributed by | Published on Friday, June 23, 2023

On his latest single “Samba Party,” out today on all digital platforms, the Sicilian guitar virtuoso Matteo Mancuso channels 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 explains. “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 favorite song from the album." The follow-up to the album’s lead single “Drop D,” “Samba Party” is the latest taste of Mancuso’s debut album, 'The Journey', out July 21st via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group.

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 Palermo, the pedigree runs deep in the veins of those from the region.

At 12, Matteo 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, which includes 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 Chicken" hit 2.2 million views on YouTube.

His debut album of nine original songs was 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).

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 says."Drop D" was one of the first songs written for the album, which 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 says.

He has recently performed with Tommy Emmanuel in Palermo, he's shared the stage with 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 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 which 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 nine deftly beautiful guitar instrumentals.

"I just want people to hear it," he enthuses. "Music has always been my favorite 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."

'The Journey' by Matteo Mancuso

1.    Silkroad   
2.    Polifemo   
3.    Falcon Flight   
4.    Open Fields
5.    DropD   
6.    Blues For John   
7.    Time To Leave   
8.    Samba Party   
9.    The Journey