Are you kidding? Now they know that I can play. But I still have to prove myself every single time. By the time she talked to Coryell, Remler had already recorded four albums as a leader for the Concord Jazz label, including one consisting solely of original compositions.
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Emily was from a hard working household, her father a meat broker and her mother in social services. She had two older siblings, a brother who became a U.
Of interest, her precursor to the guitar was the piano. Friends remember her playing for hours while her parents were at work, though quite shy about playing if asked and also of spending time drawing which explains her early desires to attend design schools. Certainly there at home is where her imagination first flourished and the foundation was laid: if you apply yourself, if you search out creative ends, you will succeed. This early philosophy expressed itself throughout her career as she was undeterred by the bias and skepticism of the male dominated music business and doubters of her ability.
She simply let her hard work and natural talent on the guitar do the talking for her. You have to believe in yourself. Royal Stokes comes this excerpt: Becoming something of a household name among jazz fans here and abroad by mid-decade, Emily nevertheless had to cope with the lingering prejudice against the female instrumentalist in the art form.
She expressed her feelings on the double standard she had to contend with everyday. Like people worrying about your looks when all you want to think about is the music. I think we can all agree that Emily met them head on and handled these moments with grace, humor and a determination that never let such obstacles take anything away from what mattered most, the music.
She could hear something else beyond the simplified melodies and spent hours jamming out new variations of her favorite songs, transcribing Wes solos, muddling through Eric Clapton licks and playing along with her best loved Johnny Winter albums.
I took art classes and Emily took music classes, specifically learning about Indian music by playing it on her guitar and authentic Indian instruments.
This was a turning point for Emily or at least part of her musical evolution. She had incredible enthusiasm about all that music could be, every complex chord and rhythm and a determination to make those sounds come out of her and her guitar. A fter graduating high school with low marks, admittedly from too little focus toward studies, she initially had trouble finding a college that had a serious interest in recruiting her.
She considered going to the Rhode Island School of Design with enthusiasm in graphic design I did sculpting and drawings and had a choice to make between Rhodes and Berklee but I was so frustrated with art. Music, at least you get more chances and a little more time and the companionship of other musicians. She opted for Berklee College of Music because music seemed more forgiving and simply because they had accepted her.
This was quite a casual and carefree attitude from someone that went on to pour incredible amounts of hard work into practicing and playing but it was her experience at Berklee that would have the greatest impact on who she became as an artist. It was indeed the first place she ever heard jazz. It turned me around, she said. She had finally found her purpose.
Still, there was a lot of work and frustration. She began studying music in the s, at music schools and with guitarists like Sidney Miller and Jards Macale. She won a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music in , where she majored on Arrangement and Composition. In the United States, she participated in assorted concerts and recording sessions. During the 80s, she lined-up and conducted the Orquestra Celia Vaz, developing projects with Rosinha de Valenca and other artists.
During the s, Celia recorded for English labels that were reprinting instrumental Brazilian music mixed with samplers and electronic instruments. In , she went to Japan once more, to participate in the album by Japanese singer Kumi Hara.
She is also a music teacher. She was most unhappy with her rhythm and timing and set about to eliminate this deficiency with intense day long, closed door sessions between herself and her metronome in a rented room on the shores of Long Beach Island in NJ. This self imposed wood shedding was how she spent her first summer after school before moving down to the Big Easy of New Orleans to rejoin her boyfriend and fellow Berklee musician, Steve Masakowski.
She often referred to this extremely focused summer as her most relevant in development and tried for the next five consecutive summers to replicate that intensity without success. It turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience that could not be reproduced on demand but was none-the-less a pivotal point in her musical evolution. It was an incredible period of personal growth for her musically. I was at sea in when I heard some smooth jazz on an AM station.. I was blessed to have had a short meeting with her and so many who have, surely feel the same way.
Little Queenie and The Percolators. It was also the entrance of Herb Ellis into her life, who would become a major influence and mentor. Emily knew his work and found out he was in town.
Her foot in the door came when she contacted him for advice on repairing her Herb Ellis model guitar, so they met and ended up jamming for hours. She can do anything. E mily was only 19 and he was genuinely impressed. From there her career was off and running.
I came out not playing that great but with a lot of knowledge of chords and theory. I would say that Berklee was good for me in theory and harmony and ear training but when I got to New Orleans I was forced to get better and better.
I played all these show gigs and jazz gigs, and I had 25 students. I was forced to come up to a certain level of playing. It was great. I sort of stole that rich culture and applied it to my own music. She states that she played every gig she could which led to a few performances in a punk rock band of all things, called the Stereotypes where she played a Les Paul with pink dust in her hair.
True story. All her dedication and hard work was beginning to shine. It was a golden time, it was a time unwinding. And the world was hers… for a while. For a twenty three year old woman jazz guitarist, it was a successful first outing. Her own voice was beginning to emerge with great Latin overtones. Meanwhile she continued to build her reputation around the New York scene, gigging with jazz groups and touring. Her writing had developed great range and complexity. It was a non stop schedule of playing and touring for the now seasoned twenty seven year old veteran and rising star.
She had also briefly moved to Pittsburgh PA, where she was Artist in Residence with Duquesne University and flourished at the local clubs, trying still to overcome her on going personal issues with substance abuse by keeping old habits in NY at a distance and new, more positive challenges front and center but life was also becoming much more hectic and demanding.
Time was flying, but time was grinding. She was an amazing player. She had just returned from a trip to Japan and had not slept, but here she was jamming away. We somehow got to talking, and talked for quite a while. She was clearly hurting, and yet she played so incredibly well. I will always remember her for how beautifully she played that night, and also for setting me straight in terms of appreciating what I had and was not seeing.
With the exception of one title, it was another album full of her uniquely evolving sound and dreams and her broadening interests into the fusion side of jazz.
Robert Jospe recalls how Emily envisioned her future. All along she kept winning respect for her ever growing musicianship and dedication to the music.
She was becoming comfortable with her own voice and vision in music and stronger in her attitude about style and substance. She was an extraordinarily daring player, edging close to the avant-garde, and she swung ferociously. There was also a deeply lyrical quality to her playing.
She was a guitarist of unusual authority and individuality , a talented player who was one of the brightest happenings in the jazz guitar world of her decade. Harmonically, melodically and rhythmically, she had it all. T he end as we all know was too sudden, too soon and without our permission. We are lucky to have had the time and pleasure of her company at all. She was 32 years young. It definitely was a contributing factor in her death and many rumors exist about what happened that last day and the years leading up to it but there were no official statements released to conclusively document the event.
This part of her history is merely a footnote in a few books or articles available about her private life. It was not considered or treated as a public topic by any of her family and friends, then or now. While there are many threads on the internet that swirl with talk of her known drug problems, the information offered is mostly unverified so this website will not linger on it or offer speculation.
What I am sure of, there is much more to Emily than her addiction and why my focus will remain strong on other positive aspects of her life. Likewise, the audio below is a revealing conversation between David B.
The Rise and Decline of Guitarist Emily Remler
She was praised by jazz guitarist Herb Ellis , who referred to her as "the new superstar of guitar" and introduced her at the Concord Jazz Festival in She recorded Together with guitarist Larry Coryell. She participated in the Los Angeles version of Sophisticated Ladies from — and toured for several years with Astrud Gilberto. She also made two guitar instruction videos. In , she was artist in residence at Duquesne University and the next year received the Distinguished Alumni award from Berklee. Bob Moses , the drummer on Transitions and Catwalk, said, "Emily had that loose, relaxed feel. She swung harder and simpler.
Emily Remler – Bebop and Swing Guitar