Suddenly September

New York, September 15, 2013. It seems September slithered in all too soon, and summer passed by e’er so quickly. But amidst the incipience of the tender-crisp Autumn air that wisps in hesitantly unto the city streets and parks this week, it gives me great pleasure to announce that a new exciting world music project is afoot, and it needs the help of those who like exploring new cultural soundscapes and landscapes. 

This new project is called “Planetary Coalition.”

Alex Skolnick Planetary Coalition

(1) What is “Planetary Coalition?”

Conceptualized by versatile guitarist and writer Alex Skolnick, Planetary Coalition is an ethnically flavored collective of diverse musicians from all over the world. Its mission is to tie together the virtuosity of jazz, the power of metal and the passion of the musical styles of Gypsy, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Asian, African, Latin and other indigenous lands. Through the universal language of music, Planetary Coalition intends to bridge the gap between different cultures, increase ecological awareness and explore the threads that connect musical expression with regional identity.

But there’s more, as people from all over the world can participate, either by being directly involved in the project as supporters or producers, and/or by sending in essays, artwork, postcards etc. It is open to all. I’ll let the man himself explain in detail:

(2) What are some of the sounds and textures of Planetary Coalition?

Besides Skolnick, other global musicians will include several well-known instrumentalists from different regions of the world. These will include, for the first CD, artists from Mexico, Turkey, Argentina, Iraq, China, Cuba, India, Ghana, Ireland, Palestine, the Canadian Arctic, and other places. The following video gives an idea of only some of the sounds and “feel” of the project. (And yes, the piece “Sleeping Gypsy” is composed for yours truly as outlined in an earlier post on this blog). There is a separate video (available for participants only) which explains the process of composition of the tune.

(3) How can I participate in the production as well as experience of Planetary Coalition?

To be a participant and get personal access to the artists and to the creative process, go to the project on ArtistShare.com http://artistshare.com/v4/projects/experience/325/439/1/6

You can participate at various levels up to being an Executive Producer.

As well, as explained in the Welcome Video, you can participate in other ways by mailing in your letters, essays, experiences, photographs, artwork, which will be included in the final multi-media presentation.

Tune in for updates at http://planetarycoalition.com/  or follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as seen on that site.

Depending on the participation level, you can have access to the artists through in-depth interviews, videos made especially for you, or direct personal contact with them in the recording studio, during their music sessions, VIP access to their shows, personalized music lessons and much more. Each level explains what the participant can get access to, including credit listing in the final CD of the project.

There are many short films and mini-documentaries that are regularly sent out to participants – some outlining great world music inspirations, others’ on the composers’ creative processes. This one is a trailer of the music writing process of the project creator, showing a tiny glimpse of a mini-series.

For those curious to know more about Sklonick and his background, you can read his memoir “Geek to Guitar Hero,” which as outlined by many amazon reviewers is very inspiring and revealing, whether you are a musician or not. The story of a shy, awkward, geeky kid of Ivy League parents who ended up being, to quote Guitar World Magazine editor-in-chief Brad Tolisnki, “one of the most remarkable guitarists in hard rock history.” Few (and especially his metal fans who often see the “rock star” persona) know that in his private life, he is an avid classical and world music listener, and his mornings almost exclusively begin with Bach, Mozart, Debussy et al playing in the background, while his evenings are filled with jazz and world music. He is also a long time avid book reader, with Vonnegut, Hesse, David Foster Wallace, Chuck Klosterman, Dan Gilbert and many, many others practically spilling out of the shelves of his Brooklyn home.

Many of the intimate views participants will get through Artistshare include the behind the scenes glimpses into the lives of the musicians involved in the project.

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Planetary Coalition Alex Skolnick

Planetary Coalition represents a global collective of musicians, listeners, artists, architects, ecologists, researchers, writers and everyday citizens coming together for the sake of our own planet Earth.

We hope you’ll join us! Also, spread the word around to friends you think may be interested.

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(p.s If there is a glitch in the project link on artishare and it takes you to Maria Schneider’s project instead, click of the Planetary Coalition project videos on the sidebar. http://artistshare.com/v4/Projects/Experience/325/439/1)

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Sleeping Gypsies and Stolen Newscasters

The Sleeping Gypsy and the Stolen Newsreader

The end of January, New York, New York. So. Alas, I have been tardy with my posts the past month or so but, for good reason. Due to the insane incompetence of a printing company that diddle-dawdled uselessly for 10 months (that’s right TEN months) of hair-splitting unprofessionalism and  lack of accountability and made a complete botch-job of a dear person’s beloved book project – I found myself starting mid-Dacember, 2012, working day and night to finish the typesetting, layout, design, copy-editing, proof-reading, and printing of a book.  From December 12 – through to January 11, guitarist Alex Skolnick and I worked our butts off to make sure that the release date (which had to be pushed back due to the previous firm’s incompetency) would be honored. He had written the book between 2008-2011 and it is a good 380 pages long. And a captivating read.

The book in itself is great – witty and introspective, Skolnick being a natural writer with an engaging, neurotic yet introspective style – and I shall be placing a review of it shortly on this blog, hopefully next month. It is the true-life memoir of one of the world’s greatest guitarists who started as a shy, awkward, introverted geeky kid – born into a family of Ivy League professor parents – who rebelled against his authoritarian father by becoming a heavy metal musician, before turning his skills to jazz. To know more on this book – before my objective review is posted – go to the book’s site: GEEKTOGUITARHERO.COM There’s a ton of stuff there – advance reviews, book synopsis, videos of his virtuoso playing (http://geektoguitarhero.com/music-videos/)and photographs and clippings from the book launch. Information on how to buy the book is also on that site.

Which brings me to the next part of this post. In a very touching speech prior to the musical piece featured in the following video, maestro Alex Skolnick (who plays jazz, metal, rock and world music with equal ease and virtuoso) thanked me for my help in getting the book together and printed in time for its release. And then he launched into this beautiful piece which he’d composed for me last summer……how touching is that? (Of course, as a fact geek I must mention that The Sleeping Gypsy (French: La Bohémienne endormie) is also an 1897 oil painting by French Naïve artist Henri Rousseau. It is a fantastical depiction of a lion musing over a gypsy woman sleeping in the moonlight.) But in this case (and I shall later get the video for the first part of this piece – the reason for Alex’s performance which he explains in the speech), the epithet is applied to the composition where the Gypsy sleeps in the first part of the piece and then awakens.

So here it is: “Sleeping Gypsy”- composed for yours truly – the Gipsy Geek – by the author of his new book “Geek to Guitar Hero.” It is a book not just for  music lovers and/or geeks and/or INTJs but, as the author has written in its foreword – “To anyone who has ever felt confused, alienated and isolated while growing up: let this story show that if you stay true to your goals and make the right choices, no matter how difficult, then things have a way of working out.”

 (Sleeping Gypsy by Alex Skolnick’s Planetary Coalition -best watched and heard in HD setting.)

Once again, check out the main website of “Geek to Guitar Hero” here: http://geektoguitarhero.com/

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And so, to end the month, a necessary non-sequitur. And that is the end of the news. Until next time.

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