Although he first came to the attention of guitar fans worldwide as a member of thrash metallists Testament, Alex Skolnick has gone on to put his metal days largely behind him in favor of his true love: jazz fusion. Born in 1968 in Berkeley, California, Skolnick's interest in rock music and guitar came about due to his (and a zillion other youths at the time) admiration of glam metallists Kiss. By his late teens, Skolnick was taking lessons from a then-unknown Joe Satriani, before signing on with a local outfit, Legacy, which would soon after become known as Testament. The quintet followed in the same musical path of such thrash metal groundbreakers as Metallica, and soon built a following, resulting in a recording contract with Megaforce by the late '80s (just as thrash began to infiltrate the mainstream).
A string of well-received releases followed (each outselling its predecessor): 1987's Legacy, 1988's New Order, 1989's Practice What You Preach, 1990's Souls of Black, and 1992's The Ritual, as well as touring alongside the likes of Megadeth, Slayer, Judas Priest, and White Zombie, among others. It was also during this time that Skolnick began being recognized for his six-string talents, racking up awards in polls held by such renowned guitar publications as Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Guitar World (the latter for which Skolnick contributed an instructional column for a spell). Also during this time (1991), Skolnick supplied guitar demonstrations for a tour by bass master Stuart Hamm.
However, Skolnick began feeling more and more confined to just one style as a member of Testament, which eventually led to his exit in 1992 (Testament would carry on, subsequently, with different guitarists and varying results). Strangely, despite Skolnick's desire to try other musical styles, he joined Savatage -- a band that was quite similar to his former group -- soon after. However, his union with Savatage would last for only a single album, 1994's Handful of Rain, before he finally set out on his own. Skolnick immediately became a much in-demand guitarist, as he either performed or recorded with the likes of Primus bassist Les Claypool and Primus/Guns N' Roses drummer Brain, bassist Michael Manring, Ozzy Osbourne, Miles Davis, keyboardist Adam Holzman, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and even Les Miserables/Jekyll & Hyde Broadway actor Rob Evan, among others. Additionally, Skolnick released a pair of albums with the prog metal-fusion trio Attention Deficit (which featured former Primus drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander and Manring) -- 1998's Attention Deficit and 2001's The Idiot King.
Relocating to New York City during the late '90s, Skolnick began performing regularly in the area with the Alex Skolnick Trio, in addition to earning a B.F.A. in jazz performance from Manhattan's New School University (where he studied with Richie Beirach, George Garzone, Hal Galper, and Cecil McBee). Skolnick also composed music for other projects, including the home video game Hot Wheels Turbo Racing, the USA Network's broadcast of the 2002 Westminster Dog Show, and MTV's Makin' the Band. He toured and performed with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and in 2005 reunited with Testament for a short European tour, appearing on Formation of Damnation, the group's first studio album with the guitarist since 1992's The Ritual. The Alex Skolnick Trio's Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, a collection of metal covers given jazz makeovers, was released in 2001, while 2004s Transformation featured radically reworked versions of Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, and Ronnie James Dio tunes. Issued in 2007, Last Day in Paradise leaned harder on original compositions, and 2011s well-received Veritas followed the same template. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi