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BALL OF FUSION

The phrase "a musician's musician" could have been coined to describe the men behind Gamalon. For nearly 20 years, the much-honored jazz fusion band has earned the respect and admiration of fans, the industry and peers.

"Gamalon was one of the first bands to make the transition from rock music to jazz rock and fusion, and they were able to do it because of their musicianship," says Buffalo Music Awards and Hall of Fame founder Rick Falkowski.

The band was formed in 1981 when drummer Ted Reinhardt and original guitarists Bruce Brucato and George Puleo joined forces to hone their fusion licks. Despite several personnel changes since then, the band has had critically acclaimed releases on Amherst Records and MCA; collaborated and toured with sax great Ernie Watts, and performed as the backing band to bass extraordinaire Stanley Clarke.

"We put a band together to jam for one night a week. We wrote a bunch of original tunes, but we just wanted to play instrumental material, the kind of music we liked," Reinhardt recalls.

Fusion earns its name by infusing jazz with funk and rock, among other sounds. It's such an eclectic style that even those who love it can understand its limited appeal. "Fusion isn't the most popular music around, in fact, a lot of people don't like it," says guitarist Tony Scozzaro. "But it's a chance for us to exploit anything in our head. The music isn't etched in stone. We can change songs every week just by looking at each other across the stage. It's improvisational. In fusion, anything goes."

Reinhardt adds, "It's all in the hope of playing something you've never played before."

In the hands of Gamalon, that music is fierce, creative and edgy, whether it's being performed live or on one of the band's six full-length releases.

The group has a busy performance schedule ahead. In addition to weekly Tuesday night shows at Central Park Grill, the group performs Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Tralf for the Artvoice Music Awards, 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Market Arcade as part of the "First Night" celebration, and then prepares for a special 18th anniversary party Jan. 18 in CPG.

The band has no plans of slowing down even though Scozzaro is performing in a cast after his wrist was accidentally broken in a martial arts class. "I can still hold a pick," Scozzaro laughs. "I'll figure out other ways to perform. But I am retiring from contact martial arts. This was a warning."

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