Magazine article Guitar Player

Alex Skolnick's Arena Jazz. (Guest Guru)

Magazine article Guitar Player

Alex Skolnick's Arena Jazz. (Guest Guru)

Article excerpt

JUST WHAT IS IT THAT makes a star shredder cut his hair, quit the metal band that made him famous, and put aside his collection of locking-trem Ibanez solid-bodies for a big or Heritage archtop?

"It was seeing Miles Davis on television," says Alex Skolnick. "I instantly caught the jazz bug, although I didn't act on it until a few years later when I left Testament and moved to New York to attend the New School. To get my jazz chops up, I started playing at restaurants and weddings, and I just loved it. I realized I was happier doing jazz casuals than I was playing metal for thousands of people, because there's so much more room for dynamics and expression. Metal does have its challenges, but I got tired of having to play the same solos every night."

That said, Skolnick is still very much in touch with his roots. On his astounding new album, Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation [Skol Productions], the reformed metalhead plays jazz arrangements of the songs he grew up on, including the Scorpions' arena-rocking love ditty, "No One Like You."

"To many people my age, that song is a standard," says Skolnick, playing the tune's verse/chorus transition in Ex. 1. "The II-V-I in the first measure has a melody in the upper voice. Then, heading to the chorus, I play a fast, Wes Montgomery-style chromatic line that lands me on Am7."

Ex. 2 shows how the guitarist handles Ex. 1's II-V-I with a slow single-note lead line. Notice how his first finger bounces around to cover the phrase's high notes. …

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