Alex Skolnick Trio @ Pizza Express Jazz Club, London

4th of March 2017
Review by Ancient Winds
Photography by Graham Hilling

Almost 9 months after his great live performance with Thrash metal legends Testament at the Brooklyn Bowl, guitarist Alex Skolnick was back in London on March 4th to offer an unusual show at the Pizza Express Jazz Club. This time, he didn’t come along with his long-time friends Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Gene Hoglan and Steve DiGiorgio. No thrash metal classics here, no mosh. Just a nice, relaxing jazz/rock gig!

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

 

Formed in 2001, Alex Skolnick Trio are currently on a long European tour to promote their most recent works. Their Europe Unbound 2017 Tour contains 5 dates in the UK and we had the opportunity to cover their London concert.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

The Pizza Express Jazz Club is a very nice venue because on the one hand, they sell some tasty pizzas. On the second hand, the jazz club downstairs is a very comfortable and intimate place. What was strange is that the band delivered two shows in one night and we decided to attend the first one.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

 

Before Alex and his jazz band came on stage, the venue was already packed and almost all tables were taken. It was even not easy for the waiters to move through the venue. I don’t know how busy the second gig was, but the first one was almost sold out for sure. I would say it was fully deserved as the Alex Skolnick Trio delivered a brilliant show.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

I’m not a jazz fan at all but they really impressed me. I have deep respect for this musical style because without it, blues, rock and metal music would have never existed. Despite that fact, I’ve never been into this genre that I’ve always considered as soporific.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

 

The good news was that everyone loved the show, including even a few Testament fans we could easily recognize thanks to their t-shirts. Most of the audience were passionate jazz fans in my opinion. Along with Matt Zebroski (drums), Nathan Peck (upright bass) and John Davis (ex-member), Alex Skolnick has released 4 albums until now.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

The two first albums (“Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation” & “Transformation”) contain mostly cover songs of hard rock and heavy metal classics from the 70s and 80s. Then, they started writing more songs on their third opus (“Last Day in Paradise”). Their latest album “Veritas” was released in 2011 and contains only one cover song (“Fade To Black” from Metallica).

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

 

The band performed a diversified set, including cover songs from very different artists and a few of their own compositions. For instance, they played Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in an instrumental jazz/rock version as they always do for their covers and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation (Mother Earth)”.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

Before starting playing each track, Alex thanked the whole audience for coming and explained the reasons why they’ve chosen those songs for the set. The American also delivered some tribute songs: one for Prince who died last year and “Django Tango” for Django Reinhardt who is famous for being the greatest jazz guitarist.
 

Alex Skolnick’s technical skills are very impressive and his solos blew me away once again. He can perform any type of music to perfection and is definitely one of the finest guitar virtuosos from the metal scene. Matt Zebroski also gave a great performance and I really think he could be an excellent drummer for a heavy metal band.

Alex Skolnick Trio Alex Skolnick Trio

In the end, they performed one of the most beautiful ballads I’ve ever heard: Scorpions’ “Still Loving You”. Of course, I prefer the original version by far but it was interesting to see the improvised way they played that classic. I wasn’t surprised at all as improvisation is a key word in the jazz world.
 
Many thanks to the Alex Skolnick Trio for this great show. It was the first time I’ve entered a jazz club and would be happy to see another jazz artists live. In addition to being an amazing musician, Alex is also a humble man who stays very close to his fans. It would be good to see more metal legends proposing something they don’t usually do!
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