A kid prodigy
Matteo hails from the far-away island of Sicily, born in 1996 and raised outside Palermo, had his family relocated to the US, he might well be the best kept secret in the lineage of great Italian- American players like Zappa, Vai, Satriani, Di Meola, Petrucci, Gambale etc.
Back in the 70’s, his father Vincenzo Mancuso made a name for himself as gifted session player on the domestic scene; it was definitely him Matteo looked up to as a primary source of inspiration growing up. While still in high school (of music), he picked up classical guitar and transverse flute, it didn’t take long for everyone around to understand that a kid prodigy was blooming.
Before long, just turned 12 years of age, Matteo takes his first steps on stage at a local jazz festival and since then his acquaintance with live performances turns into confidence and develops through various line-ups and interactions with top local musicians, including a duo with his dad spanning the complexities of Django Reinhart’s repertoire as well as contemporary jazz classics.
Multi-faceted player, classical or electric, what really is astounding and taking everyone aback is the one-of-a-kind technique and use of his fingers instead of regular picking. The killer tone and original sound truly put his talent in a different league altogether.
His YouTube channel is now at 130k subscribers, most comments come from all over the world and his international fanbase keeps growing as people catch wind of something new in the guitar world… Many are the names mentioning Matteo as a force to be reckoned with, from Dweezil Zappa, Joe Bonamassa all the way to the legends.
Matteo and his bandmates
In 2017 a trio by the name of “Snips” sees Matteo and his bandmates take on more jazz-rock and fusion elements; their version of The Chicken hits 2.2 million views on YT. Same year within the world’s famous Umbria Jazz in Perugia, Italy, he gets awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College in Boston. Still with "SNIPS,” the positive streak of successful performances keep coming along in the following months: "Les Nuits De La Guitare" festival in Patrimonio, Corsica, Musikmesse 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany and Umbria Jazz again in 2018.
2019, Yamaha guitars becomes the official endorser of his appearance at the NAMM show in Los Angeles. Matteo also gets invited as judge on the panel of "Young Guitar Festival" in Bangkok, a masterclass tour in Russia hits Moscow, St. Petersburg and Perm 2020, time for a line-up change with a new trio and Matteo goes solo now testing his compositional vein trying his own original material. As we all have experienced, the covid years have taken a toll on the industry at large. As soon as live gigs were again possible in 2021, the trio hit the road again, culminating with two sold out nights at the Blue Note in Milano...
An absolute talent; his improvisational ability is light years ahead.
It would take two or three lifetimes.
It was like when Jaco (Pastorius) came on the scene... how did he get so good and so fast..?
Al Di Meola
The evolution of guitar is firmly secure in the hands of these kind of players... it’s just a new level, the tone, the touch, the notes... they are very clean players, no slobs !”
The trio hit the road again
Meanwhile, the name is making the rounds and offers come up almost unsolicited from the deep north all the way to the south: 2022 the Bremen International Festival, the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.
Just a short break in June to graduate in jazz guitar from the Palermo Conservatory of Music with honors and honorable mention, and resume touring, this time sharing the stage with Al Di Meola himself on classical guitar at the closing night of the Eddie Lang Jazz Festival.
Lugano Jazz Festival in Switzerland with PFM (known prog-rock band from the 70s) in August, then the New Ross Guitar Festival, Ireland. A major prime-time stint on Italy’s Rai Tv (local official channel, BBC-like) in September, Uppsala Jazz Festival in Sweden, Spoleto Jazz Festival back in Italy in October.