Celebrating a 3 year anniversary of a Musical Movement

“Planetary Coalition.” In our current times, we need this even more. 

So happy to be a part of this massive project since its inception & create its album artwork and much more. With nearly 30 musicians from 5 continents. 

11/11 marks another anniversary of the release which Guitar World listed as one of the top 10 albums of 2014 & Bluenote/Artistshare selected it for the Grammys. Where USA, Canada, Argentina, Turkey, Greece, India, China, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, Mali & other parts of Africa, France, Spain, Albania, Macedonia, Poland…the Balkans & the Baltic…& many other countries came together in the spirit of jazz/gypsy/klezmer/ragas/sufi/flamenco & so many other styles. And the Liberty Science Center & some universities arranged live lecture/performances.

The Facebook page for the project is at http://bit.ly/2zvqoM9

Also, it’s not everyday that a musical piece (“Sleeping Gypsy,” the project’s signature tune which got Union Square dancing) has been written/composed for yours truly. 

#MakeMusicNotWar #SupporttheindependentArts

Here’s an updated video of the complete album. Obviously, it has far fewer views than on its FB fan page.

For the album artwork, go to: http://bit.ly/2i9Ghha


 

Advertisements

11/11 and 1 year

Exactly one year ago on 11/11 we released Planetary Coalition’s debut CD, and what an unexpected and exhilarating journey it has been! A huge thank-you to all who supported, encouraged and participated in this project and appreciated the music we offered and continue to do so.

We are honored and humbled by the reception we’ve received from the public, press and peers. Concerts at Union Square New York, at NAMM venues in California, invitations and sold-out lecture/presentations/audio-visual performances at the Liberty Science Center, NJ, at the ArtsVille series at the University of Dayton, OH, glowing reviews in many local, national and international publications, recognition by Guitar World magazine as one of the top 50 releases of 2014, Acoustic Nation’s pick as the top 10 acoustic guitar albums of 2014, and submitted by our ArtistShare/Bluenote record label in several categories for the upcoming 58th Grammy awards.

For more information on the project, vignettes, news and updates – go to the website http://planetarycoalition.com/

Since an invaluable amount of sweat, blood, creativity. effort and expenses went into this mammoth project, please support the work of independent artists and musicians and not online illegal uploads or ripped CDs.

For the holiday season, share our labor of love as the perfect gift.
Available on i-TUNES here: http://apple.co/1zB0qiN
On AMAZON here: http://amzn.to/1ASdNg4

If i-tunes and Amazon options do not cover your country, you can order directly from ArtistShare here: http://artistshare.com/v4/Projects/OfferDetails/325/439/2186/1/6

Make music, not war! Support the independent Arts!

Here’s a video of the complete album excerpts, compiled & edited by yours truly: 


Album Release

New York, New York, 11/11/2014. “Planetary Coalition” – a world music album I feel very happy to be part of officially released today! This date also marks the centenary celebration of the end of World War I.

As I often say here – Make Music, Not War.

Planetary Coalition’s musicians represent over two dozen countries and five continents and numerous ethnicities.

From its inception in Union Square on summer solstice day, June 21st, 2012 – Planetary Coalition has now grown into a truly global music project.

A collective of diverse musicians from all over the world, Planetary Coalition is driven by the acoustic guitar of Alex Skolnick, whose work spans jazz (Alex Skolnick Trio), metal (Testament), and world music (Rodrigo y Gabriela).

In the virtuoso’s own words from the upcoming album’s notes:

“It started with a lone, handwritten sentence on a notepad, describing a musical vision: “An ethnically flavored collective of musicians from all over the world, driven by acoustic guitar and bringing together inspirational melodies, in-depth improvisation and the passion of the musical styles of Gypsy, Middle Eastern, Indian, Latin, East Asian, Mediterranean, Balkan/Eastern European, African and other indigenous lands.”

The reality: coordinating over two-dozen musicians from five continents.

Yet despite the numerous logistical challenges, Planetary Coalition has been guided by a single hope: that by weaving the threads that connect musical expressions with regional identities, we can bridge the gap between diverse cultures and people, and increase awareness of the ecological and social issues facing the planet, our island in the sky. And I must confess that with respect to all prior musical collaborations, this is the album I feel most proud of. It’s hoped that in the future, these pieces can be performed not just in concert venues but as audio-visual presentations in galleries, museums and classrooms.”

Alex Skolnick's Planetary Coalition

“I am grateful to all the incredible artists who eagerly took part, some from across the world, others a few subway stops away; some eluded by mainstream recognition, others who worked on their parts in between sold-out concerts and national television appearances; a few from regions that have long been politically at odds yet refusing to let politics or ideology dictate art, music and humanity; and all of whom are the type of musicians I’m most inspired by – master players for whom technical virtuosity exists, but never at the expense of artistic expression, emotion and collaboration……”

We are grateful to all who have contributed, supported and appreciated this project. Please support the Arts by getting your copy of the album today and/or spreading the word to your friends and families.  Here’s a sneak peak into some pages from the album. All artwork, designs, documentaries by yours truly. Enjoy!


.

Make Music Not War – III

New York, August 31, 2014. Continuing from Part I and Part II, this is the third segment of the project Planetary Coalition’s musicians’ series that I’ve showcased here. This video features two-time Juno award winning Indo-Canadian singer Kiran Ahluwalia rehearsing with Alex Skolnick on a new tune, along with acclaimed tabla virtuoso Nitin Mitta, who, among many other projects, is also a part of American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer’s trio “Tirtha”. This tune developed by Alex is termed “Passage to Pranayama.” (For geeks, here’s an article on Pranayama – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama , and on Patanjali – the founder of the Yogasutras: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patanjali)

If you are curious to get a glimpse of how a tune develops, behind the final 5 minutes of audio that you hear on a finished CD, then this video gives a pretty good idea.

August has been one of the most depressing months in recent times, as far as news events were concerned around the world. The savage killings by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, more conflict in Israel and Palestine, an ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine, racial conflict, riots and shootings in the southern US state of Missouri, the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and, as a final unfunny joke – one of the most beloved comedians and genius actors of our time – the effervescent Robin Williams – killing himself due to depression: sad news even in the usually escapist world of entertainment.

Here’s to the end of an angsty August, and hoping for a more serene September.

*

Life, Love, Logic, Legends and PLanetary CoaLition

New York. December 24, 2013. In an earlier post I had given details about a new world music project being undertaken by versatile guitarist Alex Skolnick.

Details of the project, its introduction, aspects, and what the participant gets is all explained here: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/world-music-project-planetary-coalition/

To directly go to the ArtistShare website of the project to participate, donate or become a part of this wonderful creative process go here. We need YOUR help: http://artistshare.com/v4/projects/experience/325/439/1/6

There are many exclusive videos made specially for the project – from the music writing process, interviews with the musicians and artists, scenes from the recording studio (something a participant will have direct access to in-person if they choose to become a producer or higher-level participant), credit listing on the CD, VIP passes to shows and much more.

Along with all this, there are also audio-visual tours and commentaries – and one in particular is my favorite. Alex Skolnick’s “10 world music inspirations” represented by picturesque videos capturing the “essence” of the musical pieces along with his live commentary. The musical pieces he has chosen cover several countries from Turkey to Mali, from India to Argentina, from Austria to Mexico and many more.

One among these, is the second video on “musical inspirations” which yours truly has worked on. Exclusively available on the Gipsy Geek site for one month, you can watch it here, to get a sense of the experience. This video (among others of this series and many more on different topics) is available only to ArtsitShare Planetary Coalition project participants, so this is an exclusive peek here. After a month, I will password protect this video and any new or curious readers can e-mail me at gipsygeek at gmail dot com to get access to the video, or directly participate in “Planetary Coalition” on Artistshare to unlock all the other goodies and personal artist access a real participant can get and many more videos and interviews on other topics.

The two pieces featured in the video below, along with commentary by Skolnick on why these were important inspirations, are: Joe Zawinul’s “Patriots” and Peter Gabriel’s (yes, that’s right – if you listen to the commentary you will see why he was a proponent of world music) “Of These, Hope Reprise.”

I really enjoyed making this music video, the first piece – a celebration of life, love and everything that makes human existence, evolution, innovation and our planet so unique; the second, starting at minute 11:22 – a contemplative minimalist one with images that capture the spirit of perhaps one of the most influential and legendary figures of history who his followers commemorate this month. (Although historically, 25th December was the celebration of natalis Invicti [Birth of the Unconquerable (Sun)] or, as some historians say, it was the day of celebration of the God Mithras, which the Romans then adopted when they embraced Christianity, but I will not get into those facts and controversies here.) Either way, the second piece in this video is from Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Last Temptation of Christ.” And the first, of the inimitable Joe Zawinul is my own labor of love when I compiled, collected and edited the images and clips to celebrate his one-of-a-kind musical masterpiece.

Please full-screen it for better viewing.

Once again, we really need your help to make “Planetary Coalition” possible.

The direct link to support us through the ArtistShare website is here:  http://artistshare.com/v4/projects/experience/325/439/1/6

.

And my blog post explaining the project is here: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/world-music-project-planetary-coalition/

Happy holidays!

_

+

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.

*

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.

*

(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)

*

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/

*

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

*