“Planetary Coalition” selected as top 10 acoustic guitar albums of 2014 and among the best 50 releases of the year

Guitar World magazine has selected “Planetary Coalition” among 2014’s best 50 releases, alongside albums by Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Eric Clapton and others. We are humbled and thrilled by this honor. Thank you  again to those who have supported this album and believed in the power of music as the healing and binding tool that can bring diverse people and countries together.


As well, Acoustic Nation has also picked “Planetary Coalition” in its Top 10 releases of 2014.


“You might have heard of Skolnick from his escapades with the metal band Testament and later with his jazz trio.

Now Skolnick has gone in a new and exciting direction with his acoustic-focused project, Planetary Coalition. The collective’s first release, simply named Planetary Coalition, includes an impressive array of 27 musicians from around the world.

Multi-cultural and incredibly musical, Skolnick has somehow brought together a variety of musical influences, interesting instrumentation and intricate rhythms for a wholly enjoyable experience.

If you have a chance to see the Coalition live, grab it!”

Violin Vignette

Violin Wednesday!

The multifaceted and multi-talented Rachel Golub lent her musical skills to the tracks “Django Tango,” “Old World Dance,” “Sleeping Gypsy” and “Passage to Pranayama” on our album.

Here is a short clip of her recording for “Sleeping Gypsy,” a track she has played live at several venues with Alex and his team.

You can find out more about Rachel on her website at rachelgolubmusic.com

If you have joined us on ArtistShare you can see her interview by Alex. And you can see her perform as part of the ensemble that will play on OCTOBER 29, 2015 at Zehler Hall, for an ArtsLIve event at the College of Arts & Sciences, Dayton University, Ohio. Details here: https://www.udayton.edu/artssciences/initiatives/artslive/events/event_3.php

Rachel Golub
(video clip: filmed by Tom Couture; edited by Maddy)

“I broke a string!!” – continuing our September Santoor minutes.

A few more Santoor minutes on this September Saturday!

Alex Skolnick and Max ZT get into a trance during a jam for the development of the tune “Passage to Pranayama,” back in the fall of 2013.

See them and other musicians from the album at Planetary Coalition’s live performance on October 29, 2015, at Dayton University’s ArtsLIVE series: https://www.udayton.edu/artssciences/initiatives/artslive/events/event_3.php

Filmed by Maddy Samaddar — with Max ZT and Alex Skolnick.

Please use this direct link if clicking on the still below does not work: http://on.fb.me/1iFgNFU

A September Santoor minute

Check out Max ZT’s exquisite skill at the santoor (which he learned from the world’s most eminent classical santoor maestro – North India’s Shivkumar Sharma) in Planetary Coalition’s tracks “Island In the Sky,” “Passage to Pranayama,”Back to the Land” and “Sleeping Gypsy.”

You can catch him playing on Oct 29th at Dayton University’s ArtsLIVE series with Alex Skolnick and others for a Planetary Coalition live performance. See you there!  https://www.udayton.edu/artssciences/initiatives/artslive/events/event_3.php

(Clip courtesy Maddy Samaddar)

As well, keep up with new updates and posts by liking us on our Facebook Page!

Please use this link if clicking on the above image does not start the video: http://on.fb.me/1PJAPtS

Guitar meets Kora – Planetary Coalition’s Africa-inspired tunes

How did Planetary Coalition’s Africa-inspired tunes come into shape? Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the first practice duet of Alex Skolnickand Mali’s famed kora player Yacouba Sissoko, and a background of the man who lent his voice to the tracks “Alla La’ke” and “Back to the Land.”

While the inspiration for “Alla La’ke” came during this afternoon practice session, “Back to the Land” is a melody Alex had composed back in 2012 and wanted to infuse some authentic African instrumental music and voice as well, which Yacouba made possible.

Kora – the 21-string traditional Malinese instrument: Yacouba Sissoko
Guitar: Alex Skolnick

Filmed and edited by Maddy Samaddar


“Passage to Pranayama” – practice run with Kiran Ahluwalia & Nitin Mitta

Planetary Coalition wishes a very Happy Birthday to acclaimed Indo-Canadian ghazal/classical vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia.  today! She lent her unique vocals to our track “Passage to Pranayama” along with tabla Maestro Nitin Mitta.

Here’s a look back into the making and evolution of the song Passage to Pranayama with a behind-the-scenes insight into the long process of music making, idea development and tune building.

Video by Maddy Samaddar.

Alex Skolnick & Yihan Chen. A guitar-pipa rehearsal

For ‪#tbt : The first meeting of Alex Skolnick and pipa virtuoso Yihan Chen exactly a year back in July 2014. Instant musical chemistry!

See how they came up with the track “Return of the Yi People” in the album -the first ever guitar-pipa duet and a variation of Wang Huiran’s tune Dance of the Yi People.

Did you know that the Chinese Pipa is an instrument more than 2000 years old?

Guitar: Alex Skolnick

Pipa: Yihan Chen

Filmed/edited by Maddy Samaddar

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Extended Excerpt of “Playa la Ropa” with Alex, Rodrigo y Gabriela

The following link will take you to a video we posted on our Facebook Fan page following Cinco de Mayo.


Be sure to watch in HD setting!

You can also view the video by clicking on the photo below.

An extended video excerpt of “Playa la Ropa” – a high energy guitar trio featuring Alex with dynamic Mexican guitar duo and animal rights’ supporters and activists Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Alex Skolnick, Rodrigo y Gabriela

Audio – Playa La Ropa – composed by Alex Skolnick
Steel String Guitar – Alex Skolnick.
Nylon String Guitars: Rodrigo Sanchez & Gabriela Quintero.
1st & 3rd solo – Rodrigo.
2nd & 4th solo – Alex.
Chords & Percussive Guitar – Gabriela.

Video – filmed and edited by Maddy Samaddar.

This is NOT a full Playa La Ropa official video. It is only an extended excerpt for our fan page. A video featuring the complete song may be created in the future.

“Island In The Sky” live performance

On Earth Day, last Wednesday, we posted a video of the CD version of the track “Island in the Sky.”

For ‪#‎FlashbackFriday‬, here’s an early version of the track performed live in January 2013 during the launch of Alex’s book “Geek to Guitar Hero.” There are some improvisations here which are possible only in a live performance. Plus Rachel Golub joins us on her violin which is absent in the final CD.

Which version do you like better? The final CD one or this earlier live version? (Mind you, the audio is not that great here in the live performance as the camera was far away and the audience sounds get in the way.)

A special vignette for Earth Day

A special treat for our fans on ‪#‎EarthDay‬! A full video of the CD’s 1st track “Island in the Sky:” An ode to Planet Earth; to the joys, sadness and wonders of our planet captured in this quick video (which among other images holds our personal tribute to a true hero – astronomer/writer/philosopher Dr.Carl Sagan)…and to futile hope that humans will learn not to abuse the one home they really have before it is too late…’cause perhaps it IS too late in terms of irreversible environmental and ethical damage.

The phrase “Island in the Sky” comes from a passage in Alex’s dear friend author Bradford Morrow’s book “Trinity Fields.”

Musicians – Alex Skolnick (guitar), Max ZT (santoor), Moto Fukushima (bass), Luke Notary (percussion). Video compiled by Maddy Samaddar.

Thank you all for supporting Planetary Coalition!

(As this is a lower res video for quick upload, the audio will not be as good as heard in the original CD/mp3)


Please click here if the above video fails to play: http://on.fb.me/1h3JuLE

Alex Skolnick for Yamaha Guitar Development

A vignette shot by Yamaha Guitars earlier this year smile emoticon Can you name the tune from Planetary Coalition which he plays at the 20 second mark?
“Alex Skolnick didn’t develop his playing style overnight. It took many days, months, and years of practice to find his unique voice and the confidence needed to push musical boundaries.” – Yamaha Guitar Development


Album Excerpts and Preview Part 3 – tracks 10 to 14

This is the last of the album excerpts’ series for Planetary Coalition – with glimpses of the last 5 songs on the album. On Novermber 25, 2014, our itunes sales commenced and within a day the album had already climbed to the top 20 world music albums at number 13. Please help support the project – the link to buy the album on Amazon is here: http://www.amazon.com/Planetary-Coalition-Alex-Skolnick/dp/B00OTVQ0L4 and on itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/planetary-coalition/id934930381

This series of excerpts begins with a composition with Cuban influences – with the great Grammy award-winning Cuban percussionist Horacio “el Negro” Hernandezand his daughter Jennifer who co-wrote the piece with Alex.

Following this, both countries of the Holy Land – Israel and Palestine are featured – with renowned Palestinian oud player Adnan Joubran of Le Trio Joubran co-composing a track with Skolnick (a piece with surprises in its full version where the melody takes a rather unexpected turn) followed by a duet with famed Israeli percussionist Gadi Seri (a frequent accompanist in the group of Israeli singing sensation Noa) in a piece inspired by travelling through the Negev desert. Initially both Seri and Joubran were to feature on the same track but, due to different rhythm styles, decided to have two separate pieces.

The fourth excerpt is the first guitar-pipa duet ever performed of a popular Chinese melody – with Skolnick and pipa virtuoso Yihan Chen playing on a variation of Wang Huiran’s tune Dance of the Yi People as “Return of the Yi People” and the colorful landscapes featured in the video are indeed from the region of South China where the Yi people reside. To see the very first meeting of Chen and Skolnick and how they clicked instantly go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G-ymgp5e-8

And finally, an excerpt of the popular signature tune of the project – the very first track which Skolnick had composed in 2012 when he conceived of the Planetary Coalition series: Sleeping Gypsy  which includes visual clips of the dancing crowds in Union Square where he kick-started the project in 2012 and later performed once again in the summer of 2014.

On Saturday November 29, 2014, about seven of the twenty seven musicians of Planetary Coalition will play at the Liberty Science Center coinciding with an exhibition on the history and development of the acoustic and electric guitar.

Album Excerpts and Preview Part 2 – tracks 1 to 4

A short video with glimpses of the first four tracks of the album, including two time Juno-award winning Indian ghazal/folk style as well as classically trained singer Kiran Ahluwalia; also, Turkish kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi along with other members of New York Gypsy All Stars; members of the group Raza Truncka from Salto playing Argentine indigenous drums and members of the Brooklyn-based world music group House of Waters. Stay tuned till the end of the video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87ncMQRiX44

(Photography and videography of the artists in-studio are by Tom Couture and Maddy Samaddar – who has also done the editing and album artwork. A separate page will be put up to list all other images used, including film clips with copyrights, permissions and detailed credits for all the regional, political and landscape photos used in this video.)



It’s 11/11 and our album has been officially released!

New York, New York, 11/11/2014. Our album is now officially released! This date also marks the centenary celebration to mark the end of World War I.

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

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. Enjoy!

Planetary Coalition CD available for pre-sale on iTunes

Our CD is now available on iTunes. Follow this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/planetary-coalition/id934930381 

Here is a collage of some photos from the recording sessions with some of the artists, on location at Spin Studio:

Click to enlarge. 

The musicians in the collage are Alex Skolnick, Yihan Chen, Rachel Golub, Max ZT, Raif Hyseni, Moto Fukushima, Kiran Ahluwalia, Luke Notary, Tamer Pinarbasi, Yacouba Sissoko, Gabriela Quintero & Nitin Mitta. At the mixing board are audio engineer Nik Chinboukas and Yosimar Gomez. (6 photographs by Tom Couture and 7 photographs by Maddy Samaddar.)


Twenty Seven Musicians. Five Continents. One vision.

Planetary Coalition’s musicians represent over two dozen countries and five continents and numerous ethnicities. Here is a photo montage of the extremely talented and eminent musicians who are part of this recording. (Click to enlarge.)

Alex Skolnick's Planetary CoalitionFrom left to right:

Row 1: Alex Skolnick, Kiran Ahluwalia, Rodrigo Sanchez, Yacouba Sissoko, Yihan Chen, Pablo Aslan, Tamer Pinarbasi

Row 2: Raif Hyseni, Gabriela Quintero, Adnan Joubran, Dario Boente, Gadi Seri, Jose Luis Terzaghi

Row 3: Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Moto Fukushima, Nitin Mitta, Rachel Golub, Jose Armando Gola, Vasko Dukovski, Juan Casanovas

Row 4: Jennifer Hernandez, Max ZT, Shane Shanahan, Luke Notary, Panagiotis Andreou,Engin Kaan Gunaydin, Fausto Nascimbene.



From Inception to Implementation

From its inception in Union Square on summer solstice day, June 21st, 2012 – Planetary Coalition has now grown into a truly global music project. Our CD will be released on 11/11/2014.

Twenty seven musicians. Five continents. One vision. Alex Skolnick’s Planetary Coalition - featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela, Adnan Joubran, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Kiran Ahluwalia, Pablo Aslan, Yacouba Sissoko, Yihan Chen, Gadi Seri, New York Gypsy All Stars & many others - infuses the passion and artistry of the musical styles of Latin, Gypsy, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Balkan/Eastern European, East Asian, African and other indigenous lands.

Twenty seven musicians. Five continents. One vision. Alex Skolnick’s Planetary Coalition – featuring Rodrigo y Gabriela, Adnan Joubran, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Kiran Ahluwalia, Pablo Aslan, Yacouba Sissoko, Yihan Chen, Gadi Seri, New York Gypsy All Stars & many others – infuses the passion and artistry of the musical styles of Latin, Gypsy, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Balkan/Eastern European, East Asian, African and other indigenous lands.

An ethnically flavored 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……”

Planetary Coalition album artwork detail

(click image to enlarge.)