Flowing from Metal to Jazz with Guitarist Alex Skolnick
July 22nd, 2012
Guitarist Alex Skolnick is a metalhead and more, moving between thrash and jazz with ease. Although well known for his head-bang inspiring riffs, Alex likes to start his day listening to Andras Schiff’s recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Two- and Three-Part Inventions for piano.
This past Friday, Jose Mangin of the Liquid Metal Channel at Sirius XM interviewed Alex about his metal side. One of the driving forces behind the “thrash metal” band Testament, Alex came by the studios to discuss the band’s new release, Dark Roots of Earth.
Then, I spoke with Alex about his other musical interests for an upcoming episode of Linked Music. An accomplished jazz artist, he performs nationally and internationally with his band, the Alex Skolnick Trio. Their latest album, Veritas, demonstrates Alex’s ability to maneuver between the jazz and rock worlds. In his personal blog, Skolnotes, Alex writes that he was given the rare opportunity to defy categorization and “express who I am without prior expectations, conditions, and limitations.” Veritas features guitar-led instrumental compositions, including a cover of Metallica’s “Fade to Black,” the Slumdog Millionaire - inspired “Bollywood Jam,” and “99/09″with its funky nod to Prince and jazz guitarist, John Scofield.
He said in an interview with Spinner magazine that while a teenager in the metal band Legacy (which later became Testament), he heard the a capella cadenza of John Coltrane’s “I Want to Talk About You” and found the sounds enchanting. When he watched Miles Davis on television, he was blown away by jazz yet again. In the late 90s Alex left northern California for New York, where he enrolled at The New School and earned a BFA in jazz performance. There he formed the Alex Skolnick Trio, along with fellow classmate Matt Zebroski on drums and bassist Nathan Peck.
He also performed as a featured member of the progressive rock outfit Trans-Siberian Orchestra, helmed by fellow metalhead and legendary TSO founder Paul O’Neill, whom I interviewed last year. It may surprise listeners that many metal fans and musicians love classical music, but the fact is that they do. Hear both Alex Skolnick and Paul O’Neill talk all about the connection on a future episode Linked Music.
(Guitar photo by Lucia Pitallis.)