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Electric Guitarist : Jamie Glaser devotes his seemingly boundless energy to playing for film and TV soundtracks, composing and performing.

July 15, 1994|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Zan Stewart writes regularly about jazz for The Times

STUDIO CITY — Don't ask Jamie Glaser to stand still.

Sitting in a chair, talking, his brown eyes flash; his body moves animatedly.

Then give him his guitar, and even with the instrument unplugged as he poses for a photograph, Glaser bends forward, leans back, keeps a patter going with his feet, smiles, mugs. He's kinetic energy personified.

Glaser, a renowned instrumentalist who has played with Jean-Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Manhattan Transfer, Bryan Adams and many, many more, quickly tells you he doesn't drink coffee or eat sugar. The pulsing is from music.

"I feel so fortunate to be in my position, to be doing what I want, that I'm about to explode," he says. "Music is language that's universal, that's about joy and happiness, and I believe I'm a messenger for that."

Glaser, 39, who performs Thursday at La Ve Lee, is a busy guy. His primary musical activity is working for film and TV.

Initially an acoustic bassist, he has played his guitar on such shows as "Seinfeld"--dropping in the "thrash" guitar parts that the character Kramer dances around to--"Double Rush," "Someone Like Me," "Dynasty" and a hundred others.

Lately, he's been writing music for such shows as "World's Most Dangerous Stunts," which aired on the Fox network in March, and the upcoming Discovery series, "World of Wonder," which he whimsically calls " 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not,' 'That's Incredible!' and the 'Guinness Book of World Records' all stuck together." It debuts in September.

Glaser, who has a degree in composition from the Berklee College of Music, says the show is his first series. He is composing the orchestral score with his writing partner, Walter Werzowa.

When Glaser has finished a week of grueling--though very rewarding--studio commitments, does he relax at home with a beer and video? No way. He spends most of his weekends playing casuals--from bar mitzvahs to weddings.

"I love to play," he says, "and I'd rather be playing than watching TV or whatever. And these jobs keep my ears fresh, and they keep me modern by having to know all the new music."

Casuals are a great way to network, he says. "My best TV work has all come from people I have met on casuals."

Glaser notes that his fruitful relationship with Jonathan Wolff--the composer who has hired the guitarist for work on the soundtracks for "Seinfeld," "Married . . . With Children," "Perfect Strangers" and more--started when they played at a casual 12 years ago.

Glaser does cool down a bit when he does the rare live date, like Thursday at La Ve Lee. "I do that simply to have some fun," he says. "I call the group 'Jamie and the No-Concept Band,' because we'll play heavy metal, jazz-fusion, sambas. I like all different grooves, and I'm there to entertain, give the listeners a fun night."

La Ve Lee owner Eddie Arbi enjoys Glaser's show, saying, "He offers something new. He plays with a lot of energy, and he goes with the music when he plays."

A native of Long Island, N.Y., Glaser took up guitar at the age of 9 and never looked back. His father, Hy Glaser, was a songwriter--he wrote "The Lonely Hours," sung by Frank Sinatra--and exposed his son to pop music. Then Glaser discovered jazz, via the speedy playing of John MacLaughlin and Al DiMeola, while attending Berklee, from which he graduated in 1973.

Soon after graduation, Glaser was called by violinist Ponty, who was already a major musical figure, and after an audition, he joined Ponty's band for a performance in Ohio. It's a moment the guitarist will always carry with him, he says.

"I was young and ready," Glaser recalls. "I walked on stage, and I had this feeling that my career had really begun. Right now, the meaning of those words chokes me up. I can feel it as if it were yesterday."

In his desire to share his knowledge of the inner workings of the music world, Glaser has put together a two-hour audiocassette he calls "The Musician's Career Supercharger System."

"I wanted to do something for my fellow musicians," he says. (The tape, which covers everything from self-hypnosis to job-hunting strategies, sells for $19.95 and can be purchased by mail from Success Productions, P.O. Box 2034, Sepulveda, CA 91393-0034.)

To do all he has to do, Glaser only sleeps four or five hours a night, though he says twice-a-day meditation sessions--some carried out while his dog frolics in a park--are helpful. "Still, my goal this year is to get a life," he says with a laugh.

Where and When

Who: Jamie Glaser.

Location: La Ve Lee, 12514 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.

Hours: One show only at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Price: $5 cover charge, two-drink minimum.

Call: (818) 980-8158.

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