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Danny Lynn Wilson played the blues Saturday in the Lafayette Tap Room. Gamalon played its brand of jazz-influenced music Saturday in the Tralfamadore Cafe.

Lafayette Tap Room:
Danny Lynn Wilson,
Win, Lose or Draw
Dancers fill the crowded floor. You gather enough gumption and join them.

Twist, turn and twist some more. The song plays on. And on. Your energy fades as the music peaks. Why, oh why, do you always pick the longest song to dance to?

Unbeknown to the merry two-steppers who mopped the floor of the Lafayette Tap Room on Friday, song lengths were determined by their endurance. The longer they danced, the longer the band jammed.

"We try to keep the dancers going by lengthening the jam," singer-guitarist Danny Lynn Wilson said between sets. "That's why we're out there, to let people have a good time. It's not like, 'Look at me, look at what I can do.' "

Commendable words, especially during the holiday season, when the act of giving to others, not to thyself, is applauded. Unfortunately, it didn't always work.

A veteran of the Western New York blues scene, Wilson is noted as much for his Joe Cocker growl as for his dominating guitar solos.

Friday, his guitar input remained in the background as the lines of keyboardist Tom Goodrich and harmonica player Dave Wittman moved to the foreground. Calling it a creative way to play familiar songs, Wilson said his secondary role brings to the band an orchestrated sound.

Several songs were boosted by the equal-parts philosophy. A version of "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" tantalized, as an eerie keyboard melody was met with graceful harmonica, guitar and vocal strains. And the original tune "Up and Gone" showcased the classically trained prowess of Goodrich.

But not all instruments were meant to play equal parts.

The band's tunes were burdened by the murkiness of the harmonica, which was played not as a sporadic treat, but throughout most songs, leaving one to beg for the clean, crisp tones of Wilson's six-string.

Another musical philosophy? Wilson said he intended to make his guitar solos "short, fun and interesting." This they were. Jumping from slow, bent-string tones to quick, repeated strums, his too-rare and too-short phrasings were creatively unpredictable.

Guitar time was not an issue for local band Win, Lose or Draw.

Dedicating the night to Stevie Ray Vaughan, guitarist Jack Civiletto aroused and enhanced with his fluent fingering. The seasoned performer shared solos with keyboardist J.J. Moscato and saxophonist Bobby Serette but alone took the floor for "Third Degree."

His inspiring break, which seemed like a spontaneous reaction to the spirited crowd, was, in reality, a formality. "Every time I play that song, I give it everything I have," he later said.

Performing in alternating sets, the two Buffalo Music Award-winning bands kept the national-act-sized crowd hopping and bopping, authenticating Civiletto's claim that the blues "are happening here in Buffalo."

-- Michele Ramstetter

Tralfamadore Cafe:
Live recordings aren't usually as spontaneous as they sound. That live CD is often the culmination of the best of hundreds of performances smoothed over in the studio. The live release culled from one show can be a testament to the strength and talent of the musicians.

Gamalon is one such case. The jazz fusion quartet returned to the Tralfamadore Cafe Saturday night in celebration of the release of "Live at the Tralf."

The unplanned live CD was recorded for one of the musicians during the band's last Tralf gig in September. It was strong enough for the band to release.

If Gamalon had recorded Saturday's show for a live CD, it would have the same high quality.

Gamalon, one of the area's best-kept secrets, rocked through a set of high-fusion, high-intensity jazz music with an edgy touch of new age.

The dazzling guitar tandem of Tony Scozzaro and Bruce Brucato played off each other with an uncanny musical sense. The two traded solos within songs, answering each other in the same voice or going off into their divergent paths of expertise as on the bluesy jazz number "1969."

Their work was often rewarded with clapping and cheering during the songs.

The powerful rhythms of drummer Ted Reinhardt and bassist Jim Wynne was a solid foundation driven as much by subtlety as intensity. That respect for dynamics and tone works to showcase the quartet's brilliant musicianship.

On the new age-tinged "The Shield," Reinhardt carried the rhythms initially with only a cymbal, adding to the song's delicate nature.

Scozzaro and Brucato's lyrical interplay sounded like soft rain tapping against a window, taking the listeners out of the Tralf into their own comfort zone.

Brucato's "The Creeps" was another song built on subtlety, opening with sparse, rhythmic playing within the quartet.

On the other end of the spectrum was the frenetic fusion behind "The Violator" and the blazing "High Contrast," featuring Scozzaro ripping through solo after solo against Reinhardt's relentless work.

A dual-guitar attack ended the song with a bang that was answered with a rousing burst of applause.

-- Toni Ruberto

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