The Alex Skolnick Trio: Jazz’s New Standard

At age Nine Alex Skolnick found a love for the group Kiss, which caused the young boy to pick up the guitar. By age 16 Skolnick was trying out for local bands, and had stumbled across the Bay Area thrash powerhouse Legacy. By the end of Skolnick’s school career he was recording with the group that later changed their name to Testament. Testament released five records with Skolnick during his original tenure, and after his return they released the record Formation of Damnation, and now we are waiting for their next release Dark Roots of The Earth (Due July 27th).

  In the early 90’s Skolnick decided to leave Testament, and played with Ozzy Osbourne for a very short time. After a little time releasing various side projects, Skolnick moved to New York City and enrolled at the New School University. He studied Jazz, and in 2001 earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. It was at this school where Skolnick developed his new sound, and where he launched his next group, The Alex Skolnick Trio. The Trio consists of two other members, bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski.

The Alex Skolnick Trio has released four albums to date. All of these albums show all three musicians mastery of their craft especially Skolnick, whom molds his influences together to gain a significant amount of different sounds, while never exactly leaving the traditional jazz mold. Their first release was entitled Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, this album was a collection of rock and metal covers that were given a unique jazz spin. It featured renditions of Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, along with heavier re-workings such as the traditionally dirge-like Black Sabbath song “War Pigs” which was given tremendous life by the group’s arrangement.

The Trio’s next album was released in 2004 and was called Transformation. It too consisted of numerous covers but included four originals including the title track “Transformation”. It also featured an incredible performance of Iron Maiden’s classic track “The Trooper”. This track with its up-tempo shows all of the musicians incredible efficiency, especially the rhythm section of Peck and Zebroski.

In March of 2007 the group released its third record Last Day In Paris. This album was a ten track gem, which was recorded in the amazingly short span of four days. This album only contained three covers, of which one was a re-arranged version of the Testament song “Practice What You Preach” which was given the Spanish title “Practica Lo Que Predicas”, its literal Spanish translation.

After a four year gap the Trio was back with their fourth album, 2011’s Veritas. Veritas is an incredibly diverse record which features ten tracks and one reworking of the original tracks “Bollywood Jam”, which works as a sort of reprise at the end of the album. The album also features a unique reworking of the classic Metallica song “Fade To Black” which in my opinion is on par with the original.

The Alex Skolnick Trio is one of the most unique groups I’ve heard. Their creativity and innovation is on par with many of the greatest musicians the world has scene, in genres across the board. Make sure to check out the Trio, and also keep an eye out for Testamen’t next record.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video For Their Song “Western Sabbath Stomp” Below:

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