Alex Skolnick - Rock House Instructor of The Week

At age nine, a fascination with the rock group Kiss led Alex Skolnick to a desire to learn guitar. At age sixteen he tried out for a local band called Legacy. Shortly after graduating from high school, he found himself recording his first album with the group, who by this time had changed their name to Testament. What followed were five albums and countless tours with, among others, Megadeth, Slayer, Judas Priest and White Zombie. Alex received critical acclaim for his lead guitar work, which had been inspired by heroes such as Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, ranking high in many guitar magazine polls, often as 'Best Thrash Guitarist' and 'Most Underrated Guitarist.'

In addition to his metal accomplishments, Alex has made a mark that no one would have predicted: as a jazz guitarist. In 1988, while working on the second Testament album, nineteen year old Alex happened to capture one of Miles Davis’ guitar driven electric bands on television. This inspired an intense study of jazz, leading to his eventual relocating to New York City, where he earned a BFA from the New School University's jazz program (class of 2001).

It was at the New School where Alex Skolnick Trio was born. Their first recording, “Goodbye to Romance: Standards For A New Generation” brought together the worlds of metal and traditional jazz in an unprecedented blend. 'GTR' reached the top 30 on the US jazz radio charts, earned a full page article in Billboard and received rave reviews from Downbeat, Jazziz and other many other magazines; on-line retailer CDBaby listed GTR among it's top sellers.

What followed was a recording contract with Magnatude Records and a sucessful follow up CD, Transformation. Alex Skolnick Trio continues to tour at jazz and rock venues as well as festivals, including the Rochester Intl. Jazz Festival, Riverbend Festival in Chatanooga, TN. and South by Southwest in Austin, TX, along such diverse artists as Apocalyptica, Dave Brubeck and The Allman Bros.

As if jazz and metal weren't diverse enough, Alex is also a featured member of several high profile rock/pop/theater projects. Most notable of these is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which performs to sold out crowds across the U.S. at such venues as New York's Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’s Staple Center. With TSO, Alex has had television appearances including Good Morning America and Live with Regis and Kelly. Alex is also featured in Jekyll & Hyde In Concert, the first touring version of the hit Broadway show, and is a key element in the new Jekyll & Hyde soundtrack album on Koch records; Composer Frank Wildhorne writes in the liner notes 'It all became clear when I heard Alex's incredible guitar playing. It is his sound, his sense of theater and the passion that lives in his playing that was, for me, the musical voice I had to have for these songs.'

Another hit composer who Alex has been working with lately is Jim Steinman, who created the songs for Meatloaf's classic album 'Bat Out Of Hell.' Jim's latest project, the 'Dream Engine' is a group including Alex and AST drummer Matt Zebroski, performing a collection of his new songs and classics including 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' whose singer, Bonnie Tyler, is a frequent guest at the Dream Engine's live shows.

Alex's past collaborations have including bassists Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani/Steve Vai), Les Claypool (of Primus), Michael Manring (Wyndam Hill recording artist), singer Ozzy Osbourne (the Prince of Darkness himself), rock band Savatage (Atlantic recording artists) and more. Alex has composed pieces for the EA video game "Hot Wheels Turbo Racing", the USA Network’s broadcast of the 2002 Westminster Dog Show (a big band jazz piece), and the MTV series "Makin’ The Band."

In 2005, Alex reunited with Testament (after 13 years) for a series of sold out concerts in across Europe, Japan and America, including festivals with Korn, Def Leppard, Guns'nRoses, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. These reunion shows were such a success that more dates continue to follow and a new album could be in the works.

Alex added in a recent conversation, "Althiough most people know me from my Testamenrt years, Jazz is my passion os rather than come out with a metal program I thought it would be fun to come out of the gate with my first instructional product ever being a Jazz program. I just didn't realize we would have so much content. As the title suggest, yes I do break down some of those tradtional barriers. Most Rock guitraist would be intimidated by a Jazz prorgam, but I don't think they will by this one. I am a Rock player and show how over the years that I have been able to succesful expand into Jazz really using some basic prinipales. So don't worry, it's going to be ok, you'll be truning out Jazz licks and you find yourself, like me including them in your Rock playing".

Alex's most recent collaberation with Rock House is quite euniqe. Alex shares his perspectives and secrets for conquering Jazz guitar. Using basic Blues progressions, he guides you through Jazz concepts and shows how to follow progressions by targeting chord tones, triads, embellishments, modes and Jazz patterns.

Get your copy or instant download now! Alex Skolnick: Jazz Guitar - Breaking the Traditional Barriers ( 3 DVD Set)

Alex Skolnick - My Space
Alex Skolnick - Official Site
Alex Skolnick - Facebook
Alex Skolnick - Testament
Alex Skolnick - iTunes
Alex Skolnick - The Alex Skolnick Trio on My Space

©2009 - 2010 Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com

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