I was born in Lansing, Michigan. My musical development was fostered by my family’s love of music. The Beatles were always playing in the station wagon’s cassette deck. The little kids in the back or the “way-back” of the station wagon belting out verse after verse, I call that a musical education. Neil Diamond, Elton John, The Police, to name a few more whose sounds filled my ears and mind at that early age. Piano lessons for a year or two, then cornet in middle school band showed me many things about being a musician – I quit both. Then summer after 8th grade, my first guitar. The rest is, as they say, history.
Neil Mattson is a 2004 Summa Cum Laude Jazz Studies graduate of Wayne State University. He was also the recipient of the Carl & Elinor Thom Harmony House Scholarship in 2002-2003 and the Joe Fava Scholarship in 2003-2004. Mattson was nominated and elected into the Pi Kappa Lambda Honorary Music Fraternity in May 2003. Prior to attending Wayne, Mattson’s serious guitar studies began with the Detroit guitar master and Nashville session veteran, Jack Pitt, himself a student of Andreas Segovia. This experience led him to discover the discipline and beauty of the classical guitar tradition. Mattson continued his classical guitar studies under Helene Rottenberg in the tradition of her teacher Manuel Lopez-Ramos while getting his degree in Jazz Studies at Wayne. After Wayne, Mattson studied with the brilliant vibist, pianist and master theoretician, Robert Pipho, which proved to be a genuine jazz-apprenticeship and a huge stepping stone from his college learning to his professional music career.
Mattson’s professional associations have included stints with internationally renowned trumpeter Marcus Belgrave’s Louis Armstrong Tribute Band, and with clarinet prodigy Dave Bennett’s group. He was an original member and arranger for both the Detroit Swingtet, and the Hot Club of Detroit. During his time with the HCOD the band won the 2004 Heineken Starquest Competition that landed them a spot at the prestigious Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival. In addition, Mattson has been a featured performer at music festivals including the Detroit Django Reinhardt Festival, The Ann Arbor Blues And Jazz Festival, and the Michigan Jazz Festival. He has shared the stage with many Detroit-based jazz luminaries including James Carter, Art Van Damme, Terry Harrington (The Simpsons), Jeremy Kittel, Martha Reeves (Martha & The Vandellas), Frank Vignola, and Mel Wanzo (Count Basie Orchestra).
Mattson currently performs with many groups in Portland, Oregon including the jazz fusion group Trio Flux, which he composes and arranges for.