The Skol Report

The Skol Report

Dear friends:

Last Fall, I promised it wouldn’t be another several years until the next newsletter and I’m here to fulfill that promise. No, I don’t deserve a medal. No, this wasn’t as difficult a promise as “No new taxes,” or “You can keep your current health plan.” However, you’d be surprised at what a challenge a current newsletter when so much is going on, which is all the more reason why now is a great time for a follow up! So here goes:

Planetary Coalition Update  

In the last newsletter, I introduced a new acoustic/world recording project Planetary Coalition. The recording process is now kicked off. My first acoustic guitar tracks are in the hands of musicians from Mexico (Rodrigo y Gabriela – who’ve just sold out two nights at Royal Albert Hall), the Holy Land (Palestinian oud master Anad Joubran and Israeli percussionist Gadi Seri in a piece of mine that will defy borders). Meanwhile, here in New York, this week I’ll be recording several tracks in the studio, including a special tune inspired by India. This one features Nitin Mitta (considered one of the most sought after tabla players in the world) and vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia (winner of the prestigious Juno award for world music -Canadian equivalent of the Grammys). A brief taste from rehearsal:

All this has been entirely possible through your support. Thanks to all who have come aboard and participated, whether it’s just purchasing an advanced download or CD or one of the higher level premium offers (these offer access to rehearsals, recording sessions etc.  via video – and even in person). And if you haven’t yet, don’t worry – it’s not too late and the best is yet to come.  Join us today!

Guitar Intensive Workshop (June 30 – July 4, 2014)

GIW is here, featuring NY guitar improviser/educator Bruce Arnold, fusion guitar heroine Jane Getter, acclaimed straight-ahead jazz guitarist Mimi Fox and bass master Stu Hamm, and yours truly on guitar. We’ll be offering masterclasses, private lessons, jam sessions, ensembles, advice, humor and a place to get serious about guitar without losing the fun. This will be a program we hope to continue for years to come in schools, universities and camps worldwide. Our debut location is Music Masters Camp (home of the Skolnick & Broderick Winter Guitar Retreat in 2011) on June 30 – July 4. This will be an invaluable study opportunity for all levels of players and a great time of year to visit the mountains of the Catskills (you can bring guests and family members). Early registration goodies are available. Please see the attachments and/or visit the GIW Website for more info.  Hope to see some of you there!

Alex Skolnick Trio at Quebec’s World Guitar Festival

It is a thrill for AST to be playing the annual Festival des Guitares du Monde in northern Quebec.

We”ll be joining such great guitar acts as Tuck & Patti, Pierre Bensusan and others for the 10th anniversary of the festival. Thanks to Godin guitars, whose hollowbody instruments I’m using officially with AST and other jazz projects (EEGT for example-see below), particularly the 5th Ave & their wonderful new Montreal Premier. For more on FGMAT:

Stu Hamm Band, Iridium, NYC  April 17, 18  

Many know Stu Hamm as the first call bassist for these two hugely influential instrumental guitarists with Italian last names from Long Island (Satriani & Vai). But what many don’t know is that Stu is an incredibly versatile musician in his own rite. His solo bass pieces conjure the repertoire and dynamic of classical piano, bluegrass banjo and more. His instrumental pieces verge from rock, electric jazz, prog and pure funk and not only feature lots of bass but showcase the other instruments in a true band dynamic. Stu gave me my first opportunity to explore instrumental music back in the ‘90s and it’s a thrill to once again be his guitarist. As always, it’s a pleasure to perform at the Iridium, home of the Les Paul Trio (whom I had the honor of being the guest of a couple years ago). This is a show I’d recommend to all music fans (even if I wasn’t playing). Click here for tickets:  and visit Stu’s website:

“An Evening Of Music and Readings with Bradford Morrow and Alex Skolnick,” Sunday, Apr 27 KGB Bar, NYC

The written word is as much a passion of mine as the musical note. Having recently completed a book of my own (with plans for more), I’ve gained even more appreciation and respect for those who create works of prose full time. I’ve also been fortunate enough to get to know various members of New York’s literary community including one with whom I had an instant creative connection: Bradford Morrow, whose work as a novelist, editor of one of the preeminent literary journals (Conjunctions) and professor at Bard College is in a league entirely of his own.  For our collaboration, I create solo guitar soundscapes, using loops, various pedals, slide and other tools on my vintage Telecaster from Nashville (which only comes out for this project). Program descriptions: “Writer Bradford Morrow and guitarist Alex Skolnick come together for their first public performance together of A Bestiary. This unique collaboration brings together Bradford Morrow (author of, among many other works, Trinity Fields, The Diviner’s Tale, The Uninnocent, and The Forgers, forthcoming from Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press) and Alex Skolnick (lead guitarist of the heavy metal rock band, Testament, whose latest album is Dark Roots of Thrash, as well as the jazz group Alex Skolnick Trio) for a live performance of Morrow’s lyrical prose pieces about animals both real and imaginary-from Snake to Mongoose, Rooster to Bat, Unicorn to Whale, Elephant to Anemone. Set to Skolnick’s innovative world music, this reading of A Bestiary unites voice with electric guitar virtuosity in unexpected, magical ways.”

The Talkhouse

Speaking of writing, I’ve recently had my first foray as music journalist, a hat I never imagined wearing. On the other hand, The Talkhouse isn’t just any other music journal. Its description:  “Smart, distinguished musicians from all genres and generations writing about the latest releases.” It’s humbling to be among such distinguished and diverse company as techno-vegan Moby, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe (whom you’ll read more about in the next and last article), trailblazing jazz pianist (and Harvard Genius Grant recipient) Vijay Iyer, Slipknot screamer Corey Taylor (whose artistry extends far beyond his image), and the late and legendary Lou Reed.

As luck would have it, my favorite living jazz singer, Dianne Reeves, had a new album coming out just in time for my first deadline. I’m gathering she approved of the review (critiques and all) because just as it was posted, she became a follower of mine on Twitter. Throughout the day, we exchanged some nice messages back and forth (full disclosure #2: I don’t get starstruck very often but I was on Cloud Nine interacting with Ms. Reeves). For those who missed, here’s my review of Dianne Reeves “Beautiful Life”

And here’s my most recent review. This one breaks down the latest release by progressive rock  “supergroup” Transatlantic,  and includes my thoughts on prog’s complex relationship with music criticism. This article got a thumbs up from New York Times writer Steve Smith (no relation to Vital Information/Journey drummer Steve Smith):

Eclectic Electric Guitar Trio

I’ve recently joined a unique three-guitar project, Eclectic Electric Guitar Trio. This improvisational group of New York musicians definitely lives up to its name. It’s been exciting to see how fast the EEGT project has progressed. In a very short time, we’ve gotten a bunch of tunes together and even released a DVD: “The Firelight Concert” DVD on Muse-Eek (MSK 301).  A brief background:

It started out with Bruce and Jane getting together and working on duets. They gigged  at the Bar Next Door, an intimate jazz hang in Manhattan’s West Village. Ms. Getter had tenured with the Saturday Night Live band and it was working with the Hammond B-3 player Jack McDuff that jump-started her journey off the straight-ahead jazz path. Although Arnold’s journey had led him through some of the most intellectually circuitous musical terrain (he has pioneered the use of 12-tone and pitch class set theory as applied to improvisation), his roots still went back to blues and rock. Here comes the twist: then Jane had the idea of a guitar trio, rather than 2 guitars and a bass. Her suggestion was to contact Alex Skolnick, to see if he would be interested. Skolnick may be best known as the guitarist from the thrash Metal band Testament, but he is also known as the guy who took a few years off to seriously study jazz. He now fronts his own jazz trio, and works on a diverse number of projects –all while still touring internationally with Testament. It might seem like an unlikely combination, but the only real surprise is how well it all works.”

Our next gig is May 9th, Desmond’s Tavern, NYC. For more information about the EEGT go to

Richmond Ballet

On April 1st, I posted the following article, with this headline:
Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe Speaks On His Coming Ballet Music Piece With Testament’s Alex Skolnick”

I can’t say I blame anyone who thought it might be an April Fools joke. But the truth is exactly as Randy describes it in the article. To anyone who knows him, or me, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. We are both individuals who, while proud of our work in metal bands, are far from wholly defined by them. One of our favorite mutual films, Lost in Translation, has very ambient, ethereal music that reflects the sense of alienation and self-searching captured by the film. While Randy’s ballet piece is not borrowed from this or any other direct source, it is a good point of comparison. At some point the music and video of the dance sequence will be released and this will (maybe) all make more sense. In the meantime, here is great report from Randy’s Instagram:

Speaking of Instagram, you can visit me there:

And for the most up to date activity, you can follow me on Twitter:

Or Facebook:

And on the official website:

ESP Alex Skolnick Guitars Now Available

As mentioned last time, ESP Guitars is now building my signature solidbody instruments and so far, our collaboration has been fabulous. The hand-built ESP Alex Skolnick, and its little brother or sister (depending on which gender you apply to your guitars), LTD AS-1, have recently been released:

ESP Japan:

So that’s what’s going on right now. Things are relatively quiet on the Testament front as we’ve completed an album cycle and are taking some time off (and recently returned from Australia’ Soundwave Festival, headlined by Green Day).  However, we have been throwing new musical ideas around and anticipate a new album before the end of the year. And it looks like Spring is finally here (well, almost… for those of us on the East Coast, not a moment to soon).
Once again, if you’d like to support the acoustic/global side of my work, you can do so here (it is deeply appreciated):
And guitarists/bassists I’d better be seeing some of you at camp… 😉
             Until next time!

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