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Date d'inscription : 14/04/2009
Age : 58
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MessageSujet: ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO –   Jeu 24 Mar - 20:43

ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO – Alone On The Open Road

By Aaron Small

Multi-faceted guitarist ALEX SKOLNICK, best known for his work with thrash legends TESTAMENT and Christmas-time favorites TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, is quickly gaining prominence in the contemporary jazz world with his ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO. On March 29th, AST – which is comprised of Skolnick along with drummer Matt Zebroski and bassist Nathan Peck – will issue their fourth instrumental album, Veritas.

The first two Trio albums, Goodbye To Romance: Standards For A New Generation, and Transformation, consisted primarily of cover songs – including tracks originally done by KISS, AEROSMITH, OZZY OSBOURNE, THE WHO, JUDAS PRIEST and DEEP PURPLE among others. The third album, Last Day In Paradise, featured three covers and now Veritas is limited to one; along with nine original compositions and a bonus remix. “We’re definitely more about the originals now,” affirms Alex. “But we weren’t ready to abandon the covers yet. The one that we did (METALLICA’s ‘Fade To Black’) just felt so good. It would be a shame not to do it. The fact that there’s one, and the fact that it’s called ‘Fade To Black’, announces that we’re fading out the idea of doing covers. We have enough of them.”

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has been quoted as saying: “I love his work. What Alex is doing is completely refreshing. He has updated the notion of what a standard is, and it’s opened up all the current music to interpretation.” Alex reveals that Kirk offered those compliments “before we did a song by his band. Also (Metallica bassist) Robert Trujillo is a huge supporter as well. He got up on stage and jammed with us last year. We were on tour with RODRIGO Y GABRIELA and we played at Radio City Music Hall (in New York City). He got up and did a quick little jam with us; it was pretty awesome. It’s kind of cool to have half of the biggest band in the world totally digging what you’re doing. It’s really cool too because my other band (Testament), there’s always been a little bit of a disconnect I think because we were kind of in the scene that followed Metallica. Everybody was influenced by Metallica. It’s nice to have an identity outside of that as well and have the guys in Metallica recognize that there’s actually more to me than just the metal stuff.”

The title of the Alex Skolnick Trio’s new album, Veritas, is a Latin word meaning Truth. “I just wanted to make a statement about doing something that feels truthful,” admits Alex. “It’s a scary concept. People freak out about the truth. We all get in situations where we’re not being truthful, especially to ourselves. This was an album where I really felt like it felt right. This is what I want to do. It didn’t make sense to a lot of people that somebody from my background of playing metal would not just take an interest in jazz, but pursue it seriously. Once I did the first album, it got respect but, people thought I wouldn’t keep doing it. And I did. Then I wasn’t respected by metal fans anymore. Then the time was right to start playing with Testament again. It was like, ‘oh great, he’s going to give up that jazz crap.’ No actually, I’m not. I like to be truthful, even though it challenges people sometimes; so the title represents that. It’s also a favorite restaurant of mine in New York (located at 43 East 20th street). I don’t mention that on the liner notes in the record. It’s not a cheap restaurant, but it’s an amazing restaurant. Don’t go expecting to pay what you would at Chili’s.”

Switching from Latin to Greek mythology, one of the songs on Veritas is titled ‘The River Lethe’. Lethe was one of the five rivers of Hades and whoever drank from it supposedly forgot everything. “I’ve seen it referenced in a lot of books. It’s something I wish I know more of,” concedes Skolnick. “I know I’d appreciate it much more now than when it was taught in high school. One of the books I read in the last couple of years was Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe. That had a lot of references to The River Lethe.”

Another interesting title found on Veritas is ‘99/09’. “I’m a big PRINCE fan. He’s one of my favorite musicians. That song’s inspired by Prince and JOHN SCOFIELD – who’s also a funky guitarist, but in a much different way. The title is basically a tribute to Prince. 99 refers to Prince 1999 and the song was written in 2009.”

Visually, Veritas utilizes a different color scheme than that found on the first three albums. The blues and grays have been replaced by reds and violets. The cover art looks to be a blurred close-up of a field of flowers. “My friend Max Franosch is a great artist in London who does paintings and graphic design. He came up with that; I’m not exactly sure what it is? I need to ask him. He’s very creative. For the last record, Last Day In Paradise, he came up with an image using guitar strings submerged in water. It just became this really cool artistic, abstract image.”

Veritas also marks a switch in record labels, with AST moving from Magnatude to Palmetto. “Correct. I had a two record deal with Magnatude. The head of Magnatude, Pete Morticelli, is a good guy – very passionate about music. I don’t think it was the right fit. I think he wanted me to do a different type of record. I think he was hoping to throw me a bone by letting me do my jazz records, and then I would do an instrumental rock shred record.” Like a STEVE VAI or JOE SATRIANI album? “Yes; or maybe a more metal version of that. It just wasn’t in me. It would have been so forced. The label supported what I did, but I don’t think they really knew what to do with it? They do a certain type of thing. They’ve had some success. But we’re a different situation, almost like a rock band and we need that type of support and promotion. Palmetto is a very respectable jazz label, but it has a parent company which is Megaforce, so it’s really cool. This way, we have the combination of being on an actual jazz label, but we have the backing of a hard rock label.”

In closing, Alex provides a progress report on the new Testament album. “It’s going great. More than half the record is written. We’ve been taking it a week at a time, to totally focus on writing. I don’t need to be there for the whole recording, so we’re probably looking at starting recording in the spring, then it’ll be done sometime in the summer and out in the fall.” When asked how the new material compares to the classic Testament songs, Alex replies “we’re not really thinking about it so much. Whatever feels right and sounds good. I’m trying to bring in stuff – (guitarist) Eric Peterson is great at writing stuff that’s very familiar to Testament, especially stuff like The Gathering – so I’m not going to try and be like that. I’m going to try and bring in stuff that’s really different. If they like it, great! If not, that’s fine too. But so far, they’ve been really open to my ideas. I’ve found some different things, a couple different styles of rhythms and different types of arrangements. It’s going to be interesting.”
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