GAMALON

Fusion / Jazz Related Rock • United States
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Gamalon started in Buffalo, New York during the 1960's, when drummer Ted Reinhardt and guitarist Bruce Brucato began playing music together at age 12. By the 70's they were joined by Rick McGirr, Victor Marwin and Bill Ludwig to form Rodan, a prog-rock gem of the local music scene.

Rodan folded in 1977 and the members morphed into Gamalon in 1982, with Reinhardt and Brucato joined by George Puleo on lead guitar and Greg Piontek on bass and Chapman Stick.

Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry played violin on one album. Tony Scozzaro replaced George Puleo for several years and in the summer of 2004, Nori Bucci stepped in to take his place.

Their self-titled debut in 1987 was one of the finest examples of jazz rock fusion. "Project: Activation Earth" with saxophonist Ernie Watts followed in 1989. "Aerial View" appeared in 1990, quickly
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GAMALON Gamalon album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Gamalon
Fusion 1987
GAMALON Aerial View album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Aerial View
Fusion 1990
GAMALON Held To The Light album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Held To The Light
Fusion 1996

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GAMALON Live at the Tralf album cover 3.91 | 2 ratings
Live at the Tralf
Jazz Related Rock 1998

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GAMALON Reviews

GAMALON Live at the Tralf

Live album · 1998 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
M.Neumann
One of the cultural benefits (in retrospect maybe the only one) to my current exile in Western New York was the discovery of this hard working City of Buffalo band: a diamond in the rough if ever there was one. In a perfect world these guys would be packing arenas coast to coast, wowing crowds with their high-octane, all-instrumental blend of jazz-rock fusion (leaning heavily toward the rock end of the equation), instead of scratching out a living playing in small, smoke-filled clubs and taverns, setting up and breaking down their own equipment night after night, chatting with friends and fans at the bar between sets.

Gamalon has been around, in one form or another, for almost three decades, but this 1998 live collection (their latest release to date, through 2010) captures the collective energy of the band better than any of their intermittent studio recordings. It was sold as an "official bootleg", but don't let that mislead you: the sound quality is excellant, and all the more vital for its relative lack of studio polish.

This particular line-up (re-shuffled at least three times already since then) revolved around the testosterone-driven twin guitar attack of founding member Bruce Brucato and newcomer Tony Scozzaro, who assaults his instrument with such concentrated ferocity that I'm surprised his fingers aren't shredded into bloody tatters at the end of every performance. Added to the mix is virtuoso Chapman Stick and bass guitarist Jim Wynne, whose hyperactive ostinatos drive the music away from the funky low-end rhythms of their early sound into harder, more subversive territory.

But to me the heart and soul of the band remains Ted Reinhardt, a drummer's drummer in the mold of Bill Bruford or Curt Cress (it's no coincidence the early repertoire of the group included covers of PASSPORT material, with the guitars doubling for Klaus Doldinger's saxophone). Like any true musician Reinhardt's energy and enthusiasm is best appreciated in a live setting, and this CD is the next best thing to being there: when he finds his groove the drummer seems to lose himself in an awesome to watch, almost primitive trance state of total percussion consciousness. Drum solos are typically little more than self-indulgent exercises designed to kill time while the other players take a break offstage; here's a thrilling exception to the rule.

The music is, as mentioned earlier, entirely instrumental, built for the most part around group improvisations, several of which are used here as bridges and intros. At one point in their career the band tried writing some real songs (with lyrics rarely aspiring above the "girl you got me on my knees" level of banality), but this set plays to their strengths, moving from ghostly ornamental interludes to savage mile-a-minute workouts at ear-splitting volume. My only complaint is that the crowd has been edited out between each cut, perhaps to save space for more music, which would be forgivable if it didn't also interrupt the continuity of the performance.

It's reassuring to know that there are bands like Gamalon tucked away in unlikely corners of Middle America. The drawback is that potential fans outside of metropolitan Buffalo won't have much chance to discover them without some effort. But on the other hand, and I don't want to sound too smug, imagine being able to hear THE DREGS, or "Birds of Fire"-era MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, play a three hour gig for the price of a few beers, in a club little larger than an average suburban living room!

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