What Wynton Marsalis is to New Orleans, Doc Severinsen was to Johnny Carson, and Scott Glazer, with his decades of talent, is to Atlanta. We’ve heard him perform at clubs, symphonies, the Atlanta Jewish Life Festival, and Ahavath Achim Synagogue, in combos, and perhaps in Tokyo or Manhattan.
“I’ve played the gamut from weddings to funerals, and for motorcycle gangs.” Glazer is just plain cool, in both the classic and modern sense. He’s an ace sidekick, trained musician, and soulfully mellow performer who knows his way around the electric bass guitar and bass violin.
Recently he appeared in Courtenay Collin’s Cabaret at the Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage, where he harmonized with her, modeled a holiday sweater and charmed the audience as a straight man while supporting the starlet.
An Atlanta native, Glazer grew up within a musical family where his father, Morris, played coronet and appeared as a band leader. On the maternal Tabaksman side, descendants of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, he grew up in a world of opera, chazanut (cantorial) records, and music of the world, including Italian and Hungarian.
After public school, then The Lovett School, he was off to the “blue blood” Massachusetts Lawrence Academy. “There I was a southern Jewish kid in an East Coast prep school that was founded in 1792.” Naturally talented, he still knew the importance of formal training and got a music degree at Georgia State University.
“I enjoy a variety of situations: theater, orchestras and jazz gigs. Once I was a rocker, then decided to broaden my horizon and not be focused in one direction. The gig I enjoy the most is the one I’m on right now.”
His group, the Mojo Dojo, is composed of six pieces with two horns, vocals, and great guitarists performing The Allman Brothers Band with a twist or recognizable iconic songs from Sam & Dave, Ray Charles, and Wilson Pickett.
Glazer, who occasionally plays with jazz pianist Joe Alterman, as during the recent AJFF preview, reminisces about the music scene in Atlanta. “Thirty years ago, live music here was bigger. Today there are too many distractions like personal earbuds. So we have smaller venues. Atlanta is still a good [music] town. There are artistic and society dates and clubs. The bottom line is doing what I want and pleasing the crowd.”
Glazer has toured domestically and internationally and performed with artists as diverse as Grammy winning guitarist Kristian Bush (Sugarland), Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke), Scott Henderson (Chick Corea, Jean-Luc Ponty), Edwin McCain, Carmen Bradford (Count Basie), The Last Waltz Ensemble, jazz sax legend Houston Person, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie), Carmine Appice (Jeff Beck), and Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel).
He has played at Seattle’s Jazz Alley, the Blue Note in New York City, and in Tokyo clubs on the road with the jazz legend Earl Klugh (2000). Glazer currently doesn’t have an agent and depends on word-of-mouth, friends and theater people to get bookings.
“I made great friends on the road, especially Detroit. I am thankful for the experience. Klugh was an innovator of smooth jazz.”
Good deeds for Glazer included working for Literacy Action, serving as a Boy Scout leader in a “rough area,” Jonesboro homes, and delivering meals for Project Open Hand. He still keeps up with some of those now-adult young men whom he was able to mentor.
Glazer confirms that the life of a professional musician takes discipline and can be grueling. “After doing two shows a day, I head home to unwind. The YMCA on Moores Mill is my ‘country club’ where a lot of musicians work out.”
When asked to share a fun memory, Glazer recalls with a laugh, “I am the only white guy to have played in the house band for a year at Atlanta’s historic Elks Lodge on Auburn Avenue (1987). Some very famous locals and politicians came through there. I looked up at the liquor license to witness that it had expired three years ago.”
Glazer appears next in Jenny Levison’s Valentine Day cabaret at the Atlanta History Center.