'Local Cd's-Vets and Rookies; by Kevin J. Hosey, November 9, 1998, Nightlife Magazine, Buffalo, NY
These two local CD's featuring bands performing guitar-based music, show off some well-regarded veterans and a group of newcomers.
Gamalon,Live at the Tralf, Gertrude Records-- The longtime favorites of Buffalo's instrumental rock and jazz rock fusion fans and probably the best band in that style Western New York has ever produced (don't even suggest Spyro Gyra) appears to have found the best outlet for its music; a live CD recorded at Bobby Militello's Tralfamadore Cafe September 27, 1997.
Jokingly referred to as an "official bootleg" on the inside cover, the CD was obviously recorded as a deliberate act; the sound quality is very good ( and not just for live) and the musicians, guitarists Tony Scozzaro and Bruce Brucato, Jim Wynne on bass guitar and Chapman Stick, and Ted Reinhardt on drums and percussion, seem to be very comfortable and not afraid to step up and stretch out things when they feel it.
As experienced bands in these styles do, Gamalon opens the set/CD with an upbeat song, "Red Zone," with the interplay between the guitars and Chapman Stick very reminiscent of that of guitarists Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew and Tony Levin on Chapman Stick of latter-day King Crimson. The pulsing, repetitive and simple in a good way sounds from Scozzaro, Brucato and Wynne play off active, trebly drums from Reinhardt before a higher-pitched guitar line, fluid at times and sharp at others, takes the lead and some treated or synthesized guitar joins in underneath. Guitar leads/solos aren't differentiated, but the higher-pitched guitar returns, playing a faster solo that screams and becomes smooth.
Some of the best songs here don't necessarily take a rock approach; the best, "The Sword," blends in rock at times, but starts with a real noticeable Mid Eastern feel to the guitars and probably Stick. The song rises and falls as it offers a bit of a travelogue or sampler of Mid Eastern music with a meeting with and/or introduction to Western music (rock, jazz, etc.). Reinhardt (I think) adds what sounds like a very good, interesting marimba part while the guitars weave their melody around it and both solo well.
"Cave" shows somewhat of an Oriental influence on the guitar and/or Stick sounds, while Reinhardt's percussion has more of a martial Mid Easten feel to it; Scozzaro and Brucato later slide into more jaz rock fusion sounds, then toss in some choppy chords before Wynne's Chapman Stick solo is backed by strong drums and gong.
"Intro" leading to "1969" starts with some smooth, dreamy guitars, with an almost acoustic sound, joined by subdued electric guitar, soft percussion and pensive, sensual bass with Wynne going for a more straight-forward jazz feel; when "1969" actually comes in, the bass slowly asends the scale with some electric guitar, then kicks in with a rock rumble and a bit of jangle; a tough guitar melody finally appears.
More muscular guitar songs include "Sahara," some wild playing from Scozzaro and Brucato (fast, screaming) and an unneeded, short drum solo; "Beat the Heat" has some real rock punch with melody, and "The Violator" ends the CD with some blues and jazz feel to the loud, sometimes squealing rock guitars.
Gamalon produced Live at the Tralf with Bob Hillman and John Margarone, and the instrumentalists were recorded very well; the only complaint I have with the sound is that if it wasn't for a small number of times one can slightly hear audience members cheering from what seems life far away, you often can't tell this is a live CD.
Gamalon can be contacted through Gertrude Records and Reinhardt at 129 Bouck St., Tonawanda, NY, 14150, telephone 695-0373 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.mnpnet.com/gamalon.
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