Born: September 29, 1968 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Alex Skolnick, born in 1968, grew up in Berkeley, California. At age nine, a fascination with the rock group Kiss led to a desire to learn guitar.
At age sixteen, Alex 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 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 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 and the Riverbend Festival in Chatanooga.
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. With TSO, Alex has regular 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 soundtrack album on Koch records. Jekyll & Hyde 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.
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 Europe and Japan, including festivals with groups including Korn, Def Leppard and Guns'nRoses. These reunion shows were such a success that more dates continue to follow and a new album could be in the works.
Alex is also a big fan of modern fiction (doing most of his reading on planes, tour buses and the NY subway system); favorite authors include Tom Wolfe, David Sedaris and Erica Jong. He has dabbled in writing as well and hopes to pursue it more seriously one day. Other interests include wines, hot sauces and fine cuisine (especially spicy). His current vision is to continue to record and tour in collaboration with projects he enjoys, and publish books/videos when the time is right.
Yes, here a metalhead is reborn as a heady jazz guitarist in the Metheny-Scofield mold. Jazziz
Skolnick's revved-up trio stunningly reconfigures tunes by rock icons into jazz-based, guitar trio fare. Downbeat
With its creative arrangements and energetic compositions, Skolnick's trio makes a definitive statement for it's leader. Billboard