Alex Skolnick Trio
Review by Gary Hill
Alex Skolnick is a true artist, not content to sit still in one musical genre. Certainly he is probably best known as the guitarist for the metal band Testament, his first professional gig. Ultimately, though, his interest in other musical styles (his exposure to Miles Davis serving as the trigger) caused him to move into other fields. I am including this album in the progressive rock genre both for his involvement in prog and near prog groups like Attention Deficit and Transiberian Orchestra, but also because his sense of musical exploration put him in that vein even if this album does not specifically fit. In fact, this disc is purely a jazz album, with a traditional trio format. He is joined here by Matt Zebroski and Nathan Peck.
The album is a combination of originals and covers. With the covers, though, while the album is jazz his choice of material to pay tribute to is certainly not. Indeed, the one that probably falls the closest is "Money" by Pink Floyd. The rest of the covers, with the possible exception of Deep Purple, come in firmly in the metal category. In addition to the aforementioned artists, Skolnick and company turn their musical sights on songs by such unlikely candidates as Judas Priest, The Scorpions and Iron Maiden. My challenge to the listener, though, is to give the disc a spin without looking to see what song is which. As different as his arrangements are, I think you will be hard pressed to even hear the original songs in these versions.
This is a very entertaining and unique album from a talented group of musicians. If you are a fan of more traditional jazz, or creative music in general this one will be a treat. Fans of metal might decide to drop by both because of Skolnick's musical history and to hear his renditions of classics from that genre. They might wind up staying around when they realize that, although it's a huge change of pace from their favorite genre, this is still a very strong album. Personally, this reviewer is looking forward to hearing more both from Skolnick and this outfit.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.