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Skolnick Trio, Alex: Transformation

Guitarist Alex Skolnick left the seminal metal band Testament in 1992 to pursue a career in musical improvisation most notably jazz. A dozen years later comes Transformation, an instrumental jazz-trio record featuring Skolnick's strong original material as well as reworkings of such heavy metal standards as the Scorpions' "Blackout," Judas Priest's "Electric Eye," Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" and Pink Floyd's "Money." A sequel of sorts to 2002's Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, on which the Skol Trio covered KISS, Black Sabbath, and The Who, Transformation lives up to its title. Most of the tunes Skolnick rearranges sound unlike anything you'd expect but still remain fluid and melodic. Skolnick approaches them with respect but also with an open mind, confident that tampering will not impact the overall value of each song. Deep Purple's "Highway Star" which features an incredible guitar solo that betrays Skolnick's metal roots is practically the only song here recognizable from its original form. Instead, Skolnick, thumping double bassist Nathan Peck and patient drummer Matt Zebroski transform arena-ready anthems into vintage-sounding jazz-club compositions so authentic you can smell the cigarette smoke and cheap perfume.

Track Listing:
1) Transformation (5:53)
2) Electric Eye (5:20)
3) Fear of Flying (5:10)
4) Money (5:13)
5) Both Feet In (5:28)
6) Scorch (7:17)
7) Blackout (5:03)
8) IMV/The Trooper (5:18)
9) No Fly Zone (4:27)
10) Don't Talk to Strangers (6:00)
11) Highway Star (6:30)
Total Time: 61:50

Added: April 11th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Magnatude Records
Hits: 2500
Language: english

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Skolnick Trio, Alex: Transformation
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-11 07:53:11
My Score:

Guitarist Alex Skolnick has returned with another unique CD that takes well-known Heavy Metal standards and converts them into jazz compositions. Many will immediately recognize Mr. Skolnick from his stellar guitar work in Testament years ago as well as his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra's East Cost touring company. At first listen you might not recognize some of the tunes until a signature riff or key chord comes into play. I admit that even I took additional listens to it making sure I was in the mode of what the group was trying to deliver. This is really a well-done piece and the level of musicianship from Alex alone makes it worth picking up. While I am not a scholar of the jazz guitar, it certainly shows the skill Alex has and he really placed some effort into making this an interesting CD.

The group also includes some original numbers this time around and they are quite good. Among these pieces I enjoyed "Transformation" and "Fear Of Flying" most. Only six of the eleven numbers being reworked classics of Metal favorites. Among the anthems being "transformed" we have Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Pink Floyd. I have to say of the reworks I felt "The Trooper" and "Electric Eye" were what I listened to the most. Its just such a unique take on their songs that it could not
be helped. This CD is definitely a different medium for fans of the former Metal guitarist but the rock-solid production and killer guitar work will most certainly appease any music fan. Alex is joined on the CD by Nathan Peck (Double Bass) and Matt Zebronski (Drums/Percussion). I was very impressed by Matt's drumming on the entire CD.

I recommend this piece to anyone who is looking for that little bit of difference from time to time. It is a mature and intelligent release that if you can keep an open mind musically you will really like it. Jazz heads will like it and I think an open minded metal head can appreciate it as well. Magnatude is a subdivision of Magna Carta who do their very best to bring you excellent Progressive music.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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