13 Jokes for Heavy Metal Mandolin
MAESTRO ALEX GREGORY British composer, multi-instrumentalist virtuoso and inventor Alex Gregory was born into a family of 6th generation musicians and visual artists. Gregory graduated from the University of Milan as a Classical Composer and was titled "Maestro" by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II Government in 1983. Impressed by electric guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore, Allan Holdsworth, Jan Akkerman and others, the young composer found himself to be far more of a Rock'n'Roller than he could have ever conceived during his many years of strict studies. This strong Rock element in conjunction with Alex's love for the ancient melodies of Britain, popularized by virtuoso mandolinists, and the knowledge gained at collage of orchestral instruments and orchestration led to the invention of the 7 String Stratocaster (Gregory was issued with the only two patents ever issued on the 7 String Electric Guitar!) and a "Signature" deal with Fender Musical Instruments in 1987. The top A string on the 7 String Stratocaster allowed Gregory to duplicate very complex violin parts, and, together with the further inventions of the "Heavy Metal Mandolin" and the "Piano Guitar", in 1991 the young Maestro recorded "Paganini's Last Stand" for Priority/ Capitol Records. "Paganini's Last Stand" was released in 1992 and became quickly a "must have" collector's item, so much so that by 1996 it had reached Gold Status in Japan, as a bootleg, leading to a publishing deal in that country with Virgin/EMI and the official release by Fandango Records in 1997. Sixteen years after it's original release, "Paganini's Last Stand" remains an underground legend throughout the world. The success of "Paganini's Last Stand" confirmed to Alex that he was on the right track in his musical quest, and, under the endorsement of Gibson Guitars, Gregory spent the five years between 1992 and 1997 creating the instruments and the concept of the "XXI Century Electric Orchestra" Alex felt that the first step to the introduction of the "XXI Century Electric Orchestra" would be the popularization of it's lead instrument, the 4 strings "XXI Century Electric Mandolin" (affectionately called the "Heavy Metal Mandolin"). Therefore a new record titled "24 Jokes For Heavy Metal Mandolin" was stared as early as 1994, but by 2001 only "12 Jokes" were completed and ready for release, due to various distractions. One of such distractions was a stint in FOCUS 2000, the 1997 new venture of Focus founder, guitar legend Jan Akkerman, with the Dixie Dregs as the rhythm section. While the press was busy covering with major features the concept of the 'XXI Century Electric Orchestra" and it's instruments, Gregory had already taken the same concept to the next level with the invention of the Pentasystem® The Pentasystem®, which is a radically New Family of five string intruments, all tuned in fifths and a New Methodology for their use, provides simple answers (based on scientifically and mathematically proven facts) to almost every single musical and engineering problem relating to Tuning, Harmony and Orchestration. Seeing the importance and the possibilities of the Pentasystem® which is dramatically different from the traditional 6 string guitar, several groundbreaking patents were acquired to protect it's assets. In 1998-99 the 7 String Electric Guitar (because of bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Orgy, etc.) was the hottest item on the market and companies like B.C. Rich, Fender Musical Instruments and Schecter, were eager to secure licensing deals for Maestro Alex Gregory's old invention as well as the first Pentasystem® instrument to be released: the Celloblaster® The Celloblaster® debuted in Nashville at the summer NAMM and was an immediate commercial success. In no time major players like Tommy Lee, Ryan Shuck of "Orgy", Billy Corgan of the "Smashing Pumpkins", DJ Lethal of "Limp Bizkit", etc switched to what the press called the New 5 String Guitar, but that was only the beginning of a True Revolution that would change forever the way you hear and view Music. In fact, a new record titled "Another Millennium?" featuring Maestro Alex Gregory's Penta Orchestra was completed and released in 2001. Astonishingly, on "Another Millennium"? even the drums play melodies and in tune harmonies! Never one to rest on his laurels, Alex quickly followed up this release in 2002 with "The Holy Grail of 7 Strings". "The Holy Grail of 7 Strings" features Virgil Donati on drums, Matt Bissonette on bass guitar, John Levesque on vocals and Albert Lee on "chicken picking" jewels. The record shines with a unique cover of Deep Purple's "Burn", that demonstrates not only the ability of all the musicians, but also the versatility of Gregory's inventions. Throughout 2003 and 2004 Alex and the Pentasystem ® were featured on prime time Los Angeles major TV News channels. But, even as this was happening, Alex was focused on his next goal, the recording of "Bach on Steroids!" In order to be able to dedicate himself completely to his recording career, in 2004 Maestro Alex Gregory sold the Pentasystem® technology to Pen 5 Guitars LLC. Finally free of distractions, he cold now undertake the monumental task of orchestrating and recording what many described as "impossible dream". "Bach On Steroids!" i.e.: "the impossible dream", was completed in 2006. While re-writing all the books, from Pop to Rock, from Classical to Punk, from statement, contemporary and accurate, on fifteen of the most popular Bach pieces, performed by the spectacular line up of some of the most respected musicians in the world. Signs that the industry was finally ready to recognize Gregory and his past achievements came on November 9th 2006, when Maestro Alex Gregory was presented in Hollywood with an LA Music Award for career achievement in guitar innovation, as well as the listing as one of the fifty fastest guitarists, top shredders of all time in the monster July 2008 issue of Guitar World. Now, with the record complete, Alex is focused o securing management, recording and publishing contracts, while letting "Bach On Steroids!" and the overwhelmingly positive response received from the industry, musicians and critics to do the talking. Discography: Rock Guitar Greats (1991 Priority/Capitol compilation) Paganini's Last Stand (1992 Priority/Capitol) Paganini's Last Stand (1997 Virgin/EMI Japan) 12 Jokes For Heavy Metal Mandolin (2001 Nidus) The Holy Grail Of 7 Strings (2002) Bach On Steroids!