Exactly one year ago on 11/11 we released Planetary Coalition’s debut CD, and what a wondrous 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.
Here it is! A full album-excerpts video, which helps visualize the regions covered by the varied musical styles and instruments, and gives a glimpse of the musicians during the recording process.
“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.” – Alex Skolnick
On 11/1 – it’s here: Finally – a single video with excerpts of all 14 tracks! (Please watch in HD if possible)
We are excited that ArtistShare has submitted this album as an official entry in the world music, arranging, composition & soloist categories for the 58th Grammy awards.
The first anniversary of the album’s release – 11/11 is fast approaching and we are happy that so many have reached out and shown appreciation for this album. Please keep spreading the word! Remember – Make Music Not War!
While this is a pleasant surprise, the most important thing is that we were able to successfully create an album which took tremendous effort and musicianship. And that act of creation was a wonderful reward in itself.
THANK YOU ArtsLive and the University of Dayton team for your wonderful hospitality and warm welcome this week and for making our October 29, 2015 show a success!
Special thanks to Eileen Carr & Bryan Bardine for the interviews!
Thank you Lisa Claus for the flawless coordination!
& to the Planetary Coalition ensemble who also spoke of interesting insights of their life and work.
We had a fantastic time!
Alex Skolnick -Acoustic Guitar
Rachel Golub -Violin
Max ZT – Santoor/Hammered Dulcimer
Kenny Grohowski-Percussion Maddy Samaddar – Visual Art & Film
Those in New York City and especially near Bard college and surrounding areas in upstate NewYork – please come and join Alex Skolnick and his friend, distinguished author of many books and “Conjunctions” editor Bradford Morrow for an evening of text and music, where the duo perform “A Bestiary.”
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.”
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.
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.
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 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)
Two vignettes shot by Yamaha Guitars earlier this year:
“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
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.
“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!”
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 ofLe 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 virtuosoYihan 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 Gypsywhich 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.
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.)