THE BLADE: TOLEDO, OH, SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 1989
ERNIE Watts is packing his sax and heading for Toledo, and jazz-rock fans are in for a treat.
Watts, who will play Thursday night at the University of Toledoi's Student Union Theater, is an extremely versatile saxophonist who for 17 years was the lead reeed man with Johnny Carson's Tonight Show Band. Such a job demands a musician who can play with anyone, and diversity is one of Watts' strong points. He's comfortable with any musical style, be it bebop, blues, fusion or rock.
He has recorded with artists as diverse as Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, and Chick Corea. In 1981, Watts fired up his horn with the Rolling Stones as the legendary band toured the United States.
In his Toledo appearance, Watts will team up with a hot new jazz fusion band called Gamalon. Gamalon's self-titled debut album was released last year and reached No. 8 on Billboard Magazine's Contemporary Jazz Charts.
Watts and Gamalon recently released an album, "Project: Activation Earth," and it's a sizzler.
Gamalon boasts a guitarist named George Puleo who can reel off a blistering guitar solo with the best of them, but knows not to force it. He'll lay low with some imaginative rhythm work when it's called for, but he's always ready to turn on the juice with an electrifying solo.
Puleo and Watts work well together, often challenging each other as they duel with their flashy solos. The high-energy song, "Activation*," off their latest album, is a perfect vehicle for their fiery improvisations. The song begins with a compelling drum beat, then Puleo tears into it with a knife-edged lead guitar. Watts jumps in with a fast and gutsy tenor sax solo and the band takes it from there. It's bound to be a house-burner in concert.
The rest of Gamalon's lkineup includes a rock-solid rhythm section composed of two brothers, Tom Reinhardt on bass and Ted Reinhardt, formerly with Spyro Gyra, on drums. Bruce Brucato plays rhythm guitar.
Toledo is the last stop on an 11-city tour for Watts and Gamalon, so the band should be finely tuned for Thursday's concert. After Toledo, Watts will be journeying to Europe for tours with the Charlie Haden Quartet and Billy Cobham.
* Activation co-written by Ted Reinhardt, Bruce Brucato, George Puleo and Tom Reinhardt.
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