If you listen for a guitar playing during the music accompanying the classic comedy series “Seinfeld” or “Married… With Children,” you can hear him.
If you’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to the music of jazz fusion artists like Jean-Luc Ponty or Lenny White, or if you’ve listened to The Manhattan Transfer’s 1991 release “The Offbeat of Avenues” or some of rocker Bryan Adams’ best work, there’s a good chance you’ve heard his guitar skills there as well.
The player you’d be listening for is Jamie Glaser, who’s been known as a top session guitarist for many years with credits including work with Chick Corea and Chaka Khan as well, just to name a few. He’s played live in front of audiences around the world. He can be found via YouTube on an old video from The Tonight Show with Manhattan Transfer. He’s done a lot in his musical career, continuing his playing/recording/producing/directing/teaching career from his base between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah — far from the faster life he once knew in places like Los Angeles or his roots in New York City.
With that kind of history on his resume, you’d think the achievement he’s most proud of would have to do with his accomplishments as a musician. But what he’s actually most proud of is surviving a disorder – manic depression – that’s plagued him in the lowest points of his life, through poverty and homelessness, bringing about behaviors that made even those who were closest to him question whether he was a drug addict.
Glaser is most proud of surviving a disorder that’s taken the lives of other gifted musicians through their own manic behaviors (how is it that some of the most gifted artists have been known to suffer from bipolar disorder and done so much creative work given the “genius” tag in their lives?) and going on to encourage others to get the help that they need as well.
He’s doing it again through the recent republishing of his book, “Hear The Silence,” in online form. It’s a book that’s far from a “typical musician’s bio” with tales of celebrity antics. In fact, it really doesn’t cover much of his musical life at all, only giving brief references to his experiences in the spotlight more as a way of showing the highest highs he’s seen in his life before sinking to the lowest lows.
“The one thing that I hope that is my legacy is the book I wrote, celebrating life, and inspiring others who may be depressed, are bipolar, suffer mental illness, just down in general with lessons I’ve learned and that have me celebrating life from morning ‘til night 365 days a year,” Glaser says in a post on his Facebook page.
The thought of “hearing the silence” is first mentioned in his experiences dating back to Glaser’s days at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he went to see a teacher and – in the quiet darkness of the teacher’s room – was asked to describe the sounds that were around him, finally dawning on him that there was much more going on around him than what little was happening in that room.
“He continued telling me he would teach me to notice these sounds, to know how to find them, to use them musically and in my life,” Glaser writes of that lesson that’s stayed with him through his life. “I believe it is this lesson that has given me a life like few others. I believe this lesson has given me a career like few others. And, most importantly, it is this lesson that got me through my horrible, painful experience with bipolar disorder.
“… Learn to ‘Hear the Silence’ and you will learn one of the greatest secrets there are to enlighten and fulfill your life!!”
With those words, the first chapter of the book is complete and the stage is set for Glaser to tell the rest of his story. It tells a story of …
- Having a young man with cerebral palsy – who could only speak by pointing at letters one at a time – helping Glaser to appreciate the beauty and goodness that surrounded him instead of being angry and bitter.
- Days when he was known more as a “maniac” – throwing paychecks for his television work out the window of a moving car on a San Diego freeway, spending money and traveling aimlessly.
- Spending long periods of time not wanting to get out of his bed or leave his home due to fear or depression.
- The people who cared about Glaser, recognized he needed help, and guided him through his own personal darkness.
- Traumatic experiences that helped to trigger some of his deepest bouts with depression.
- Glaser’s spiritual beliefs, animal friends, a beloved children’s television show that all helped to lift and keep him out of his depression.
- Advising those who may be experiencing their own personal darkness on how they can pull themselves back into the light.
It’s part musician memoirs with deeply personal insights into self-help and motivation along the lines of Tony Robbins or Wayne Dyer, two of Glaser’s favorite motivational figures. It’s a combination that makes for an engaging, uplifting read.
Glaser tells his story in a style that puts his personality on display. As you read it, imagine sitting in a restaurant that serves New York-style pizza as Glaser talks to you across the table with his own New York flavor. There’s honesty and heartfelt passion in his words. And as anyone who’s gotten acquainted with him in person or on social media can attest, he’s looking to help others more than he’s looking to help himself.
“Hear the beautiful symphony in the silence,” Glaser says in the final chapter. “Play life’s gorgeous melodies over and over. May the songs of this beautiful existence be always at the top of the charts for you.”