Jamie Glaser is a very talented guitarist who is originally from New York City. He started playing guitar at a young age with direction from his father who was very prominent in the music business. After studying with many great teachers, Jamie would eventually enroll in the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. In his years in New England, Jamie took in some live shows and when he saw Chick Corea and Return to Forever, he knew this was the music he wanted to play. That's exactly what he did, as he is now the guitarist of the Jon Anderson / Jean-Luc Ponty band. They have a new album out called "Better Late Than Never" and they are embarking on a fall 2015 US tour. I recently caught up with Jamie.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your professional musical career and your new album with Jean-Luc Ponty and Jon Anderson. You've been playing with Jean-Luc throughout the years... are there any differences with Jon Anderson in the mix?
Jamie - Thank you. Oh yes the differences are many. Jon is like a waterfall of creativity and likes to try out ideas. He hears an idea, or feels where the music may go and asks to give it a shot. Jean Luc is amazingly off the charts creative but in the years I have had the honor of playing with him, the parts were defined first and then we made alterations. His vision of the music and his compositions were well formed and usually written out in music notation for me. I must say with this new collaboration I have seen Jean Luc experiment more . He trusts me and has given me an enormous amount of freedom to create and be "jamie" on this album. Jon started out with me not really knowing what I could bring to the table, but as the months went by he too , let me add my ideas freely. Its a wonderful situation for me.
R.V.B. - The new album is a live album... did you have to be really polished and rehearsed for this because of the recording or was it just another live gig and the usual preparation?
Jamie - Well this is a great question. I did not do the live show. The band rehearsed for a few weeks and the original guitarist was Jamie Dunlap. He is the composer for the show "south park" and a really good musician. When the 2 shows were finished which took place in Aspen Colorado, they talked about a tour. Jamie could not commit to a long term tour because of his TV work. A lucky break for me. I did all of Jamie Dunlaps parts completely over on the CD and DVD. He appears in the DVD but the guitar parts are all me.
R.V.B. - I know you did some old classics from Jean-Luc and Yes. Was it fun to re-work these tunes?
Jamie - Well yes, what's really great is that they aren't arrangements, re harmonization's or even new orchestrations they are truly re-imagined. We have used that word in our branding, cause it's true. Its like we looked at all the songs as brand new songs. While there are some familiar trademark sounds, for example the lick in Owner of a Lonely Heart everything else is done from scratch, with new attitudes, fresh ideas, new parts.
R.V.B. - Do you consider the music prog with jazz mixed in?
Jamie - You know I am the last one to put labels on music. It's all music to me. I fought a long time not to get type cast as a jazz fusion player for many reasons. I wanted a lucrative and lasting studio career in Hollywood, and type casting in a style can really hurt you. I would say our music is progressive, emotional and passionate. It has elements of rock, pop, jazz, reggae, prog and world music.
R.V.B. - I know that your father was very instrumental in getting you involved with music... What was it like growing up with him and what kind of early experiences did you have with his professional career?
Jamie - My father Hy Glaser was perhaps my greatest influence and my greatest supporter. He was a well known lyricist who wrote for people like Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn , Joe Williams and more. He worked to teach me the craft of lyric writing, and he showed me how being passionate made a difference in both the music and my living. My dad made sure that I had training, my first guitar teacher, Joe Breeze was the guitarist on the Ed Sullivan show. Great teachers came after that , and eventually I went to Berklee college of music. My dad was so proud of me and gave me opportunities to write with him. I had my first single with him at age 13 with a full Hollywood orchestra playing. I can still remember the first time I heard our song on the radio in New York, like it was yesterday.
R.V.B. - You've had many great music teachers through the years. Can you describe a few of the differences that one may have showed from another?
Jamie - Actually I was extremely fortunate. Many musicians get screwed up from studying with many teachers. The differences in techniques, and so on can confuse someone trying to learn what the best way might be. My teachers all pretty much were professional studio musicians, all read music amazingly well (also my strong suit), they all groomed me to have a career, to have the tools to make a living. I am very grateful that my teachers were mentors as well as the best instructors on earth.
R.V.B. - When you reached your late teen years, and I'm sure as every teen does... you knew everything and wanted to do things your way. What was the popular music at the time? What kind of music did some of your first bands play. Did the girls like it?
Jamie - Well now I'm gonna sound like an old guy... LOL I was born in 1955 so I was a 60's kid. I loved the Beatles, I loved Black Sabbath, Hendrix, and Clapton... Cream, Blind faith etc. I enjoyed all kinds of pop music and soul too from James Brown to the Temptations. Man I wore out my Vanilla Fudge records, and my Ten Years After albums. I loved heavy metal too. Later I liked more jazzy groups like Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears. I was into just about everyone that played at Woodstock. Music was my life, still is, and was soaking it all in. My bands played pop, rock, everything from Grateful Dead to the Bee Gees. Oh yes we enjoyed trying to impress the girls.
R.V.B. - How was your college years at Berklee? Was the Boston music scene different than New York? During your studies, did you go out and check out live music? Where were some of the venues that you went to and who did you see?
Jamie - Berklee was the best thing that ever happened to me. The school was on the cutting edge of just about everything and had the best musicians on the planet. The years I was there 1973-1977 hosted musicians who are still today the busiest in the business from live to studio. We networked like crazy back then and helped each other to find success. The music scene in Boston was amazing. Funk and R and B was very popular as was jazz , jazz fusion and punk rock. I played weddings, bar mitzvahs, and corporate work on weekends with amazing musicians and made a really good living. During the week I played with a funk band, and worked the red light district quite a lot. There were gigs just playing blues, and other nights playing be bop jazz. I actually got introduced to fusion music as a school assignment. My teacher sent me out to learn how to become a music critic and journalist. I was sent to a place where I saw Chick Corea and Return To Forever. I will never ever forget that night , it changed my life and became the guide for my future. I vowed that night that I would play "that" kind of music, and I would someday play with the musicians I saw on stage. I did... I've played with Chick Corea, Lenny White, and Stanley Clarke and the guitarist they had, whose name is Bill Connors , ended up opening for Jean Luc Ponty some 10 years after that show. Amazing really.
R.V.B. - How did you make the transition into being a professional musician?
Jamie - Well I did my first professional gig at 11 years old, made $100 dollars playing dances for the American Legion, and other organizations on Long Island. I had a band of my own by then. At 13 years old I joined the New York Music Union ...local 802 and went to work from then on. I was making 25,000 dollars and more a year by the time I was 14. I played every weekend with older musicians. By the time I was 16, I wanted to play bars with show bands etc, and got written permission from my dad to enter bars without a guardian. I went on my first "tour" at 16, playing clubs all over the east coast . I loved that band, and I remember being so proud that Neil Diamond's drummer was our drummer. Good Times!!!
R.V.B. - Can you tell me how it was on your first early tours with Jean-Luc. Did anything ever go unexpected or wrong during a show?
Jamie - All I can say here is poor Jean Luc. I was so green, I would bug him every day . When is sound check Jean Luc? where are we playing Jean Luc? How can I get a better sound Jean Luc? Jean luc finally told me... ask the manager not him. I think the most memorable bad day was at the Montreax Jazz Festival in Switzerland. This was the king of kings jazz festival and every great and well known musician of jazz, jazz r & b, and jazz fusion rock was there.
I got on stage and right in front of me is Chick Corea, Herbie Hanclock, George Duke, and others. The show begins and I have the first solo. I am pretty animated on stage so I walk up to the front more like a rock player might do and go to play my solo, with the hopes of blowing those musician legends away. I pick the first note and there is nothing... NOTHING and then a horrible buzz, my guitar starts to come through sounding like I am playing through a broken transistor radio. The notes are being massacred by the hum. It was horrible. Well I know the show must go on... so I just kept making believe I was really playing. Oh I moved my body in emotion, and bent back when I hit screaming high notes (that weren't screaming)
and when my spot was over I went back to my position and held back the tears. Amazingly the crowd went crazy over my solo... I will never know why, I have heard the tapes , and they surely didn't hear
anything I was playing. It turned out my guitar tech had mistakenly plugged my guitar "IN" into the output by mistake that's why we had no sound. Its 30 and more years later and I am still not really over that solo that never made it to daylight.
R.V.B. - How did you enjoy meeting and intermingling and sharing the stage with greats such as Larry Coryell, Al Dimeola, John Mclaughlin and others?
Jamie - My fellow guitarists have all had a profound influence on me John Mclaughlin still blows me away... he and Mahavishnu Orchestra are still one of my biggest influences. He changed my life. Larry Coryell and Al opened for us many many times and I have nothing but respect and admiration for them.
R.V.B. - When you became a polished in demand studio musician you played with a lot of different people and styles. What style guitarist do you consider yourself?
Jamie - I am a guitarist who really appreciate all styles. I look at music differently than many and maybe most guitarists. I see music from the compositional sense. I have been fortunate to have played country, metal, new age, jazz, funk, fusion, polkas, ethnic music,... the list goes on. I believe its for you to use a label , I can't really say. I am most well known as a sight reader so in the studio they called me to read music, they never called me for a particular style, except that my influence in funk music made me more in demand for sure.
R.V.B. - What are some of your favorite venues that you have played? What concert performances really stick out in your mind up to this point in your career?
Jamie - I love playing anywhere. I was proud to play Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall, as well as Red Rocks in Colorado and the Greek Theater and Hollywood Bowl in LA. The gig that really stands out was in Santiago Chile with JLP. They had just gotten their freedoms and the crowd was electrified. They had to lift us over the people to exit, they were so in to the music and our performance. Still to this day Chile is one of the places we love to play most.
R.V.B. - The music business can be something other than glory and fun at times, due to external circumstances such as trends, conflicts in the band, drugs, or medical conditions. Can you tell me if you experienced any downside to the music business or life in general being a musician?
Jamie - I have been spoiled rotten in the music business. I have always worked with the most amazing passionate musicians, always traveled first class, always have made money doing music from age 11. I have had one employer bounce a check in 45 years and we eventually got paid. In 1994 I was in the Northridge Earthquake and that was the catalyst for a 2 year period where I was down and out, depressed, sick and even close to being homeless. The composer of Seinfeld (one of the shows I did) paid for me to get help and Dr Richard Elpers saved my life. I had severe PTSD and more. I have written a book entitled "Hear The Silence" to uplift others and show how you can be at your lowest point and how to come back to an extraordinary life. I will never forget those 2 years of hell., but I am surely so grateful to have come through it to this glorious life I have now.
Jamie - Oh Yes... Music for television must say what it has to quickly. You have to get the mood, the message within a minute or two. Its an art to compose for TV for sure. Pop music is more concerned with hooks, choruses, where TV is all about saying it without repeating yourself... like you would to make a point in pop music.
R.V.B. - What were some of your exciting television work experiences? I loved being guitarist on Seinfeld , Married with children, Dynasty and Who's the boss. I also did lots of Disney films and more cause of my TV experiences. Being the guitarist in the SAG *screen actor guild" orchestra was so cool . I really enjoyed doing that award show., as well as playing on the Grammys.
R.V.B. - Other then the upcoming tour with The Anderson Ponty Band, what are some of your current projects?
Jamie - Well we just got the Global Music Award (2015) for the album
I did with Alan Hewitt. He is the keyboardist for the Moody Blues., and also a producer. He produced the successful Earth Wind and Fire album in 2001 I believe. Getting the award is great. I do a ton of arrangements and have enjoyed having my work on everything from country records to sacred music for local Utah artists. My partner David Dachinger who is an emmy award winner and I have around 80 compositions on network TV. We write for Superbowl, Masters, PGA, NBA and more. Its not only lucrative but fun to hear our music each week on TV. I have other compositions on Animal Planet, Discovery, History channel and more. I am the luckiest musician on the planet.
R.V.B. - Thank you for considering answering the questions and have a great tour.
Jamie - Thank you very much. All the best
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
No part of this interview may be reproduced in ant part of form without permission from this site.
For more information on Jamie Glaser visit his website http://www.jamieglaser.com/
For information or to advertise on this site contact musicguy247(at)aol(dot)com