Dominic Mancuso Group
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Dominic Mancuso Group

Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band World Adult Contemporary


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"The Sicilian Jazz project Sizzles"

Like, suppose Gil Evans, the late great musical genius arranger/composer who sired the Birth of the Cool for Miles Davis, got hold of musicologist Alan Lomax field recordings of old Sicilian folk songs that were wildly popular fare at weddings, dances and parties and worked his magic on them. What would they have sounded like reshaped for a cool modern Canadian jazz band? Last night in the Jazz Tent, Michael Occhipinti's Sicilian Jazz Project came oh-so close to providing the definitive answer.

First. A great entrance. In single file, the band strode on stage from the wings singing a folk song acappella. In position, instruments at the ready, the players were introduced in song. Barry Romberg on drums, Roberto

Occhipinti (Michael's brother) - bass, Louis Simao - accordion, Ernie Tollar - saxophones and flutes, Dominic Mancuso - vocals, percussion, mini-bass, and Michael Occhipinti on electric guitar. M. Occhipinti, slight, dapper, somewhat owlish behind large frame glasses, looked open, friendly and relaxed in a light blue short-sleeved shirt, pale gray slacks and a dark cloth cap. It bespoke of a good time vibe. The opening number, a tuna fishing song no less, set the tone and flavour for the rest of the exceptionally enjoyable set. Some fishing trip. Romberg's rippling assertive drumming and Roberto Occhipinti's crisp fast-fingered bass lines were less suggestive of a heavy diesel fishing smack engine than a finely-tuned powerplant beneath the hood of a sweet ride Lamborghini. Indeed when the band grooved with smooth, pulse-riffling, sophisticated ensemble playing, it was like we listeners were carefreely zoom-zoom-zooming along a twisting country road on a warm sunny day in an expensive Italian sports car with the top down, man. Lovely feature. The light baritone singing of Dominic Mancuso - lusty, emotive, freighted with passionate sincerity, lifted the folk tunes high up into the thrilling zone. The instrumentalists framed his vocalizing with stellar work on accordion, wooden flutes, soprano sax and smoothly crafted lyricism on the guitar. Solos sparked awe. Fiery licks, assertive ostinatos (short repeated melodic phrases) and luminous dynamics wowed the crowd who might never have imagined how simple Sicilian folk sngs could have been unconventionally reimagined into such hip and exciting musicality. In light of last night's performance, all that's left to say is: Michael Occhipinti, that's some una sola visione estatica."
By Graham Pilsworth - Arts Reporter -2008 The Chronichle Herald, Halifax.By Graham Pilsworth

"The Mancuso Brothers: Sight & Sound"

“It was a privilege to showcase MANCUSO2 at George Brown’s Sight & Sound event for Nuit Blanche. The inspiring and moving musical performance transfixed the audience, and the projection of Vince Mancuso’s stream-of-consciousness, realized in digital paintings, was mesmerizing --- the audience couldn’t get enough! - Helen Vukovich - Event Producer

"Sweet and Bitter: Sicilian Jazz"

Michael Occhipinti Sicilian Jazz Trio
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival:

"How can I choose from among the high points of this show? The husky tenor of Mancuso’s vocals were so full of longing and gutsy bravado, casually, effortlessly in the centre of the pitch, and so Sicilian in the way he subtly showed the Arabic influences that have passed through that island and left a mark on the music. "

Tova G. Kardonne-Live Music report
- Tova G. Kardonne-Live Music report

"The Sicilian Jazz project at The Atlantic Jazz festival"

…Mancuso is the real sound of Sicily. His voice is robust and passionate and he wails in such a way as bring expressions like “ Sicilian blues” into mind, and also suggest how close in temperament and expressive style all the music from the rim of the Mediterranean Sea is, though also very different.”
, Arts Reporter -2008 The Chronichle Herald, Halifax - Arts Reporter -2008 The Chronichle Herald, Halifax

"A Trophy Turns The Tide for Dominic Mancuso"

“No clichés,” he vowed when recording the worn Italian classic, “O Sole Mio.”

The song almost demands to be performed grandly, operatically — a suitor comparing his lover's face to the sun — but Dominic Mancuso interpreted it tenderly, like a lullaby.

He sang it as though to his newborn child, an astonishing rendition that helped him win this year's Juno Award for best world-music album, the only Italian-language disc ever nominated in any category.

“That piece was the most difficult of the whole record,” he says of the Neapolitan hit from 1898. “Just a delicate little touch on the guitar. I felt entirely exposed.”

At 41, born and raised in Toronto, Mancuso has been building an audience through a weekly residency at Lula Lounge, the city's premier world-music venue.

Every Friday since January, he has cultivated a following with his broad range of musical styles, variety of musical guests and energetic, almost boisterous, stage presence.

The Juno boosted his efforts.

Invitations to summer festivals have poured in — “from Kamloops to Charlottetown,” he says — and agents have dropped by to ponder his international potential.

“All I ever wanted to be was a hockey player,” he says of his teenage self one recent evening after a show, “until somebody ran a stop sign and I jackknifed on my motorcycle and fractured my seventh vertebra.

“I had to rehabilitate for a good year,” he says. “I took up an instrument to keep my sanity.”

Mancuso took up bass guitar. On finishing Grade 13, he played clubs in rock bands for six years. In 1994, he entered York University's music program, switching to acoustic guitar.

Three years later, he followed Tania Cologna, now his wife, to northern Italy where she studied piano and for several months he became a type of wandering troubadour.

“That's when I really started to play guitar and sing,” he says.

Making a record in Italian sprang from an urge to pay homage to his parents and their generation of Italian immigrants.

“They came here in the 1950s, post-World war II,” Mancuso says. “And they weren't just people from my (Sicilian) hometown. They were from various regions and that (Toronto) community was family to me.”

For the album, he chose songs in various Italian dialects. He picked nostalgic pieces, such as “O Sole Mio” and “Menamenamo,” and more contemporary numbers of singers he admires such as “Caruzo” by Lucio Dalla and “Je So Pazzo” by Pino Daniele.

But the album is North American, not Italian, Mancuso says.

“I'm embracing North American instruments like the B-3 organ,” he says. “I'm playing jazz harmonies. I'm doing little funk approaches and taking some New Orleans shuffle-funk meters and rhythms, and juxtaposing them on old Sicilian melodies.”

He titled the work Comfortably Mine. One of the first people to embrace it was Lucy Pillitteri-Friesen, of the Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and of Sicilian background.

“The whole feeling of his music, it wasn't something he had to explain to us,” she says of one reason why the company gave away 10,000 Mancuso albums in a wine promotion last year, getting it circulating.

After a Quebec tour, Mancuso's Lula Lounge residency resumes June 4. - Toronto Start John Goddard Staff Reporter

"Dominic Mancuso: Comfortably Mine (2010)"

When you hear great music, be prepared to be touched in your soul. More about Raul.

Dominic Mancuso is one of the most distinctive voices in music. He is a paramount storyteller; a premier Sicilian griot of these times. He wails with the best. He cries the blues from the depths of his soul—bringing great measures of duende to the music. Mancuso can swoop, flutter, and rush in to every nook and cranny to dilate the mind's eye when he sings. At times he is like that blithe spirit inhabiting the hidden breath of music, the one who makes the nape of the neck crawl with delight and who makes the heart skip a beat when he lets that distinctive rasp glide through to deconstruct and rebuild the song from its very depth. In this respect, he recalls the great Ray Charles at the height of his powers.

Comfortably Mine—his first CD since he graced Michael Occhipinti's award-winning Sicilian Jazz Project (True North Music, 2008)—is headed for the proverbial classic status despite its being a humbly offered self-production, the fate of much worthwhile music these days. On this album, Mancuso weaves in the warmth and passion of Sicilian folk sensibility with the sliding quarter notes of the myriad sounds of the Mediterranean rim with the vibrant elasticity of the idiom of soul and the wild swing of jazz and Romani freedom.

From the repertoire, even without a first listen, it becomes clear that Mancuso is driving for that zone that warms the cockles of his heart. His selection mainly of classic songs would have been the safest bet here but, being a restless spirit, Mancuso cannot bring himself to merely lay down music that the world is familiar with. He imbues every song with light and dark twists and turns and recreates them from the inside out. His artistic intensity drives the music with marvelous abandon. "Je So Pazzo" teeters on the edge like the drunken cliff-hanger that it turns out to be. Mancuso is positively puckish on the wonderful "Menamenamo" and his take on Gino Paoli's lyrics to the Jacques Brel song, "Ne Me Quitte Pas" is heart-breaking and seems made for his raspy voice. He imbues the classic "O Sole Mio" with a magic that is both drenched in a longing for that promise of living brightness.

But by far the most memorable tracks on the album are the popular Lucio Dalla song, "Caruso," which is sung with such an elemental sadness that it feels like a corkscrew through the heart. The legend of "Padre N'toni" is a classic as is "Sicilia Antica," a poem by Guiseppe Gennaro narrated by Venus and featuring Ernie Tollar's ney and the doumbek of Rick Lazar. On this album Mancuso also enjoys the company of a group of stellar Canadian musicians: guitarist Tony Zorzi, the singer's alter-ego, multi-instrumentalist Kevin Adamson, drummer extraordinaire Mark Kelso and bassist George Koller. This is a rare album indeed, quite simply one of a kind. - By RAUL D'GAMA ROSE Published: March 20, 2010 Raul d'Gama Rose [ Contact ] CD Review Editor Joined A


2012 SHINE ON : The Universe of John Lennon
2009 Comfortably Mine Dominic Mancuso
2008 Michael Occhipinti's Sicilian Jazz Project
2004 Songwrirters Vol. 1 Sukha Records
2000 MANCUSO Calling Out




2010 JUNO AWARD "World Music Album of the Year" (Canadian Grammy)
2010 CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARD "World Music Solo Artist of the Year"

“ Dominic Mancuso is one of the most distinctive voices in music. He is a paramount storyteller; a premier Sicilian griot of these times. He wails with the best. He cries the blues from the depths of his soul—bringing great measures of duende to the music. This is a rare album indeed, quite simply one of a kind.“
Raul d’Gama Rose – All About Jazz

The Quintessential Independent Artist, Dominic Mancuso is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer born and based in Toronto, Ontario. The multi-instrumentalist with an ‘impassioned singing style’ is defining a rich hybrid sound, fueled by the multicultural flavours of his native city, his versatile guitar playing and passion for world music. Mancuso’s latest release, Comfortably Mine showcases his global sound and diverse talent. The album is a sonic exploration of his ancestry: he reinvents classic Italian songs by breathing new life into them in imaginative ways. By embracing his forefathers’ southern Italian repertoire and infusing it with his North American sensibility, he successfully merged the old world with the new. Featuring 12 tracks and a powerhouse of Canada’s finest musicians playing behind Mancuso, the album has received critical acclaim, earning a 2010 Juno Award and a Canadian Folk Music Award for World Music Artist of the Year.

Mancuso has a long, distinguished musical pedigree. He has produced and released several CDs, written scores for TV and film, been involved in numerous musical and interdisciplinary collaborations with artists spanning the globe, and entertained hundreds of thousands of people across North America and in Europe with his infectious on-stage energy & zeal for story-telling. Of note, Mancuso musically directed and performed as the featured vocalist in the off-broadway production Tarantella staged at La Mamma E.T.C in New York City. Across the Atlantic, he staged the cultural event Una Melodica Eco Nel Mondo in Delia, Sicily, the success of which led to an honorary guest performance at the region’s Rafadali Festival.

Collaboration is an integral part of Mancuso’s career. He has teamed up with some of Canada’s most dynamic musicians to compose, record, perform and innovate. In addition to his solo work, the Toronto troubadour is a featured member of the 2009 Juno nominated Sicilian Jazz Project, a collective of musicians led by the renowned Michael Occhipinti.The group, hailed as ‘a masterpiece of cultural fusion’, employs an intriguing mix of Sicilian folk source material and the best elements of modern jazz, world music, funk and blues. They’ve dazzled audiences at major jazz festivals across Canada as well as in the U.S., Mexico and Italy.

Mancuso is also co-founder of the groundbreaking musical production called MANCUSO2 with his brother Vince, a nationally recognized visual artist. The show synergizes music and digital painting in an engaging real-time experience. Since unveiling the concept in 2000, the Mancuso brothers have staged it numerous times to rave reviews, including at the Toronto Distillery Jazz Festival (2003) and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (2007). The show has been commissioned by corporate clients such as Pfizer, Cadbury/Adams and Bell World and was endorsed by York University through inclusion into their 2000 curriculum.

He is Currently recording original, multi-lingual compositions to be released later this fall. The balance of the year will be focused on touring nationally and abroad – from The Plaza Theater in Montreal, to LUMINATO’s main stage in Toronto and into various theaters throughout British Columbia. Also in the works, is a documentary film featuring the artist which will follow his performances and travels throughout Italy in the spring of 2012.

Career CV Highlights
-Canada's National Broadcaster records Dominic Mancuso & Kevin Breit in Concert for national broadcast
-The Alliance Francais, presents Mancuso in the Homage to George Brassens
-Spotlight.Italy features Mancuso twice during their 2 week festival honoring Italy's 150th Anniversary of Unification
-Radio Canada presents Dominic Mancuso in concert at The Plaza Theater in Montreal for national French Broadcast.
-Luminato-Toronto presents Dominic Mancuso on the main stage June 11th 2011, honoring Italy's 150th Anniversary
• 2010
-Juno Award for ‘Best World Music Album’
-Canadian Folk Music Award for ‘World Music Artist’
-Artist in residence at the Lula Lounge, Toronto’s premier world music venue, performing a weekly series entitled Mancuso Live & Intimate
• Performed on popular HIT TV show in Quebec ‘Belle et Bum’
• Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues Festival (St. Johns-Newfoundland)
• Markham Jazz Festival
• Southside Shuffle Blues/Jazz festival- Portcredit-Ontario
• PEI- Souris Hall in Souris
• Guitar des Monde Festival in Nora