Tony Scozzaro - "No Brakes" by Jim Hudnut RATING: VVVV

When I first saw Tony Scozzaro play, it was at Impaxx Nite Club as part of his blues band (Anthracite) opening the show for blues legend Albert Collins. Scozzaro's playing was intense that night and showed what a fine blues player he is. Therefore, when "No Brakes" arrived in the mail, I was expecting to hear some blues. Boy, was I surprised!

"No Brakes" is anything but a blues workout- concentrating its energy on jazz-based stylings much in the vein of Larry Carlton and local jazz-rock fusion kings Gamalon. The recording of the CD began before Scozarro joined Anthracite and does not mean he has abandoned his year-old band as he remains an active member of Anthracite. The group plans on completing a recording of its own original music in the coming months and it promises to be a blues workout deluxe. "No Brekes" accomplishes one task for Scozarro - showing peaple that he is a versatile player - similar in scope to the Dixie Dregs' axeman Steve Morse - equally at home in any style he chooses.

By and large, "No Brakes" is an instrumental album focusing on Scozarro's fretwork, but he is not alone in putting out this quality recording. Guests such as Bobby Militello (sax), Bobby Jones (keys), John Caruso and Jerry Livingston (bass) and Al Monti chime in along with Anthracite bassist Rodney Apply and former Anthracite drummer Reggie Evans. His replacement in the band, Jim Linsner pounds the skins on the bulk of the CD. Only two of the seven lengthy tracks feature vocals - "Hold On To The Wind" and "Until Now" - and Nick DiStefano's fluid pipes grace both numbers. Both are love songs in the soft jazz field.

But, Scozarro is at his best when he lets his axe do the talking - from the opening "No Brakes", "The Numbers" and "Ihe Snake" to "The Jakeman" - a song dedicated to his young son (Jake). On each of those tunes, Scozarro, who studied for a year et the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) and was its 1982 student of the year, stretches out, but doesn't ruin the tunes with a flurry of unnecessary notes. Instead, he plays what needs to be played - letting his friends fill in the rest. Only the closing "The Anthracite Shuffle" is from his blues experience (and was the opening tune in Anthracite's Collins opening set), and even it receives a jazz treatment.

"No Brakes" was recorded at International sound with Scozarro self-producing. For further information on "No Brakes" contact Scozarro at (716)675-2638. The CD is available locally at Cavages, Cars and Guitars, Elmwood Music, Limelite Music, Record Theatre and U-Crest Music. It is also available on cassette.


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