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Rendezvous at the Mojo Dojo 

37 Main Street brings jazz and more to Buford

Don't look now, but -- for one night a week, at least -- jazz has come to Buford.

It's a Thursday night in downtown Buford. Main Street is only a few minutes from the Mall of Georgia and the hubbub of I-85 and I-985, but at first glance, it looks like it could be 50 years in the past. Purposefully, no doubt, Buford's main stem is a once-upon-a-time-warp bubble of small-town nostalgia.

It's in this setting, at a tapas restaurant named 37 Main Street (the exact address is 37 E. Main St.) that some very fine jazz is taking place. The band, dubbed Mojo Dojo, is a rotating cast of Atlanta's finest, under the direction of upright bassist Scott Glazer. On this night, tenor saxophonist Sam Skelton, alto saxophonist Tony Carrere, keyboardist Randy Hoexter, drummer Keith Runfola and guest vocalist Audrey Shakir join Glazer. The performance has a loose, spontaneous air as the band romps through such standards as "Cherokee" and "Yardbird Suite" and lesser-known tunes such as the Duke Ellington/Don George composition, "Tulip or Turnip."

On a typical night, Glazer handles most of the vocals himself, but tonight he's added Shakir to the bill. She's fully up to the role of jazz chanteuse, whether it's scatting over a blues improvisation or skillfully wringing every drop of nuance from the Sarah Vaughan ballad, "If You Could See Me Now."

The Mojo Dojo musicians are quite plainly enjoying themselves. "Some of the nights have been really good experiments," Glazer says. "One night we had Bill Hatcher on six-string bass, myself on upright bass, Keith on drums and Randy Honea on guitar. It was a combination I wouldn't have been able to put on the bandstand in most places."

A mojo, for those not up on voodoo lore, is a magic charm designed to bring power and success to its holder -- usually, but not always, in sexual relations. Dojo is a Japanese term which, at its most basic, describes a martial arts training facility. "However, dojo embraces other concepts as well," says Glazer, "including a sense of place, learning, community, respect for the art. I approach the gig in this spirit."

Players vary from weekly, Glazer explains. Other participants have included pianist Cody Stine (who's there most weeks); trumpeter Gordon Vernick, director of jazz studies at Georgia State; trumpeter Joe Grandsen; and drummers Clay Hulet, Justin Varnes, Lawrence Jennings, Matt Turnure and Phil Smith.

Opened in May, 37 Main Street is a nonsmoking venue, open Tuesday through Saturday, with music each night. The Tuesday and Wednesday offerings vary; Fridays and Saturdays are devoted to flamenco music, of all things, which has been very well-received. On Fridays, guitarist Rouzbeh (pronounced ROOS-bah) Hosmandi performs solo; on Saturdays, guitarist Sasha performs with two percussionists. They don't perform as background music. "We opened it to be a music venue," Attaway explains.

Glazer, an Atlanta native, is glad they did, and pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to plant the jazz flag in Buford.

"One of the best musical experiences of my life is to have this weekly opportunity to not only play, but to watch these guys play," Glazer says. "I'm as big a fan of the musicians in this town as anybody, so at the same time we're doing our thing, I'm happy to be listening to them and honored to be up on the bandstand and do this thing every week."

bryan.powell@creativeloafing.com

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