Gino Matteo
""I've Been Thinkin" "

Twenty-five years old & his future looks extremely bright

How old is this kid? Twenty-five! Man oh man, what debut recording from Mr. Gino Matteo who hails from Southern California. If "I've Been Thinkin'" is any indication of what Matteo might be able to build upon his future recordings- look out!

The first thing that grabs you about this excellent recording, is that you're immediately taken back by the superior production value, and dynamite audio quality, which is by no means taking anything away from Gino's performance, powerful guitar playing, and song writing. Gino stands tall behind the brilliant horn charts, and sting arrangements, did I say strings on a blues CD? Think back to B.B. on "The Thrill is Gone," as most of this disk really works gorgeously, and the arrangements only add (and do not hinder) what Gino is all about. A lot of blues labels should take note, as this recording is one of the best sounding blues records I have heard in a very long time.

A brief Gino history: Since winning last year's competition at the Guitar Center in Hollywood, Gino has been touring at several of this country's festivals, and performs regularly in Southern California. In fact Hubert Sumlin mentioned Gino's name to me, as Hubert was a judge at one of the guitar competitions where Gino performed. Hubert told me; this boy can play! Plus check out:"> where Gino cites: Chris Cain, Jon Cleary, New Orleans Funk, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Johnny Lang, Phish, Miles Davis, Dr. John, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Soulive, Jimmy Witherspoon, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Tom Waits, Parliment Funkadelic, Bill Withers, as some of his influences, which is a very impressive list considering Gino's young age.

Drummer Chuck Gullens, bassist Eric Ward and pianist/organist Dennis Wayne Holseybrook, back Matteo, and lay the perfect backdrop for Gino, who really sets himself apart on "I've Been Thinkin.'" There are twelve songs included; (plus a really cool thirteenth hidden track covering Chris Cain's "Drinking Straight Tequila") most of which offers a delightful mix of original material, and well known blues/rock standards by Tom Waits and Robbie Robertson.

The vibe often includes that urban big city sound as from time to time you will hear street traffic, dog's barking, and party sounds, which definitely gives "Ive Been Thinkin'" an extremely unique vibe. Far and away different from many current blues recordings in recent memory, and a pleasant break from the same old.

The highlight for me came on Gino's "Bone In The Soup" which starts slowly, yet climaxes with one of the most emotional guitar solos I've ever heard, (remember Gino's just twenty-five.) Which gives me the impression; that this recording ain't no fluke, nor do I suspect that Gino's a one-shot wonder.

"I've Been Thinkin'" is a very impressive debut; as it's musically diverse, offers top-shelf material, is delightfully funky, delivers dramatic guitar playing, plus it is very well produced, beautifully mixed and recorded. All in all a truly remarkable achievement from such a young talent, here is to more Gino Matteo for many years to come!

Bob Putignano: