Alex Skolnick Trio, (aka Skol Trio), is a New York based group consisting of guitar, upright bass and drums. This may not seem unusual at first, but upon closer inspection, there are a few things, which set it apart from the many other trios performing in the New York area. One is that the group is fronted by guitarist Alex Skolnick.
In 1992, after several years as a heavy metal guitar hero with Testament, Alex decided to risk it all and devote his life to the process of music closest to his heart: improvisation. Eventually, he ended up in New York City, pursuing a BFA in jazz from New School University (received June 2001). It was here that he met two young twentysomethings: Matt Zebroski (a Pittsburgh Pa. Native who studied with Roger Humphries and Billy Hart) and John Graham Davis (who, in addition to being a working bassist, also runs live sound for the likes of Michael Brecker, John Pattitucci and others).
Another thing that sets this group apart is their choice of repertoire: Skol Trio is performing music that has never before been done in the acoustic trio context. After years of absorbing the songs of the traditional repertoire (such as "All The Things You Are" "Green Dolphin St. etc..."), Alex wondered would happen if he were to take some of the hard rock tunes he listened to in his youth, reharmonize them and open them up to improvisation? Would it be possible to take these songs out of the arena rock shows of the 70's and 80's, and move them into smoky lounges and nightclubs in the new millennium? The result was a most interesting creation: An early 80's hit song by Scorpions turned into a delicate Bossa Nova; a hard rock anthem by Kiss became a tour de force of swing, funk and Latin. And this was just the beginning. The group has gone on to do arrangements of Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Who which, along with a couple of Alex's original compositions, resulted in their debut recording "Goodbye To Romance: Standards For A New Generation (Skol Productions)."
Since then, the Trio have toured throughout the country to packed houses in such places as Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Texas and New York City. They've recently appeared on XM Sattelitte Radio and Fox Morning News in Cleveland and they have been contacted by MTV2 for a possible appearance. Their album was chosen by Zakk Wylde (guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne) as his pick of the month in Guitar World (January, 2003) and have been featured in all the major guitar mags.
"Goodbye To Romance" recently was awarded 4 ½ stars by Downbeat (March, 2003), and has been featured in magazines such as Jazziz (March and April, 2003), Downbeat (February, 2003), Billboard (Jazz Notes; April, 2002), The Village Voice (February 26th, 2003) and more. They've reached #26 on the JazzWeek radio charts (August, 2002) and were listed on Jazziz' Top 50 HitList (November, 2002). Alex and the Trio have performed at such notable music industry conferences as CMJ (New York, NY, 2002) and at SXSW (Austin, TX, 2003).
Alex, Matt and John are representative of many young players today who, at one time, were mainly interested in hard rock before moving on to explore jazz and other styles. In fact, Alex recalls being pleasantly surprised during his first semester at the New School, as one after another of his classmates nervously approached him and confessed to being fans of his during his Testament days, a few even crediting him with being the inspiration for them to start exploring jazz. It goes to show that in today's world, many musicians and fans start in one place and end up somewhere completely different, without ever losing touch with their past. The Alex Skolnick Trio is where the past, present and future come together.
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 Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads.
In the meantime, however, Alex's tastes were changing. An exposure to Miles Davis' electric bands inspired him to push harder to be a serious musician. No longer content to be just a metal player, he began an intense study of many types of music including jazz, funk and world music. In 1990, twenty-one year old Alex was tapped by Guitar World magazine to become a monthly instruction columnist. He has since written for Guitar World, Guitar Player, and Guitar magazines, the latter of which has featured him for over five years. It was around this time that Alex did his first guitar clinic. He has gone on to give guitar clinics across the U.S. and in Europe. In 1991, bassist extraordinaire Stu Hamm chose Alex to handle guitar duties on his national tour, opening the door beyond metal.
Since leaving Testament in 1992, he has blossomed into an artist of profound diversity, going on to perform and/or record with Primus bassist Les Claypool and drummer Brain (currently of Guns'n Roses), Wyndham Hill recording artist Michael Manring, Attention Deficit (w/Michael Manring and Primus drummer Tim Alexander), Savatage, Ozzy Osbourne, keyboardist Adam Holzman (of Miles Davis), Broadway star Rob Evan (Les Miserables and Jeckyl And Hyde) and more. Alex continues to be a featured member of the smash hit holiday show Trans-Siberian Orchestra, performing to sold out crowds across the U.S. as well as appearing in local and national radio and television appearances. He has also become active as a composer; with credits including 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."
Alex has been based in New York City since 1998. Believing that the learning process never ends, he has intertwined all his activities with intensive studies. This has included earning a BFA in jazz performance from New School University, where he studied with master musicians such as Richie Beirach, George Garzone, Hal Galper and Cecil McBee. His playing combines elements of all the styles he enjoys, and his current vision is to continue to record and tour in collaboration with other musicians and as a leader of his own projects.