A Moment in Jazz History
B. Sept 18, 1957 - D. May 4, 1990
Born and raised in Englewood Cliffs NJ, Remler began guitar at age 10 on her older brother's Cherry-Red Gibson ES-330 - the guitar she would use most of her career.
At that young age she had other interests like sculpture and drawing. Emily was sent to a private boarding school in Massachusetts to finish High School. She applied to both music and arts schools for college. She was accepted at both Berklee College of Music and the Rhode Island School of Art. Her decision was to choose music.
When she entered Berklee she's quoted as saying she wasn't that good. Jazz was an alien art from to her. When she discovered Paul Desmond, Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery they were just right for her. She became hooked on Jazz.
Remler finished a 2 year degree and graduated at 18. She's quotes as saying she still wasn't much of a Guitarist but she learned a lot about harmony, reading and keeping time. A story she told that her teacher told her she had bad time and she rushed home crying. Then she worked with a metronome on beats 2 and 4 with no other accompaniment.
Her boyfriend at the time, Steve Masakowski, was from New Orleans and they decided to move there. But Emily wanted to spend the summer practicing in New Jersey first. She rented a room on Long Beach Island for 8 weeks and worked on chord theory and soloing. She quit smoking and lost weight. That's where she learned to plan.
When they moved to New Orleans she got lots of work. Reading music got her a lot of gig: Hotels, Shows, Weddings, Anniversary Parties R&B gigs, Jazz gigs and All-Night jams with the old timers on Bourbon St. She Gigged with Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFarrin and backed up singers Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson and Robert Goulet. Wilson took Remler on the road and brought her to the Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. She was able to meet and play with Herb Ellis.
In 1978 Ellis invited her to play the Concord Jazz Festival along with Barney Kessel, Cal Collins, Howard Roberts, Tal Farlow, and Remo Palmier (the group was called "Great Guitars"). Ellis told People Magazine, a few years later, "I've been asked many times who I think is coming up on the guitar to carry on the tradition and my unqualified choice is Emily."
Remler was only 21, but the opportunity launched her career, and she was now in the big leagues. She impressed Carl Jefferson, president of the Concord jazz label, at that gig, too. He didn't offer her a recording contract on the spot, but she was on the map.
She went back to New Orleans, put together a quartet, and worked. She only lasted another year there before moving back to New York, but she always valued her New Orleans time-it made her into a musician and helped her find her voice.
She returned to New York with earned confidence. She called up John Scofield and invited herself over. They jammed. Scofield introduced her to John Clayton. That introduction led to her first recording date: a session with the Clayton Brothers for Concord. That was enough for Carl Jefferson. He offered her a four-record deal.
She also met pianist Monty Alexander, who hired her to play guitar with his group. A romance ignited, and they were married. But the marriage only lasted two and a half years. After the break up Remler is quoted as saying she played and played and did everything she could to destroy herself.
Remler couldn't escape gender bias. On one hand it helped her career-she was a novelty. Women didn't play instruments. Some people were fascinated. In a way, it opened doors and got her gigs.
"I still have to prove myself every single time", she told Downbeat.
When asked how she wanted to be remembered she said "Good compositions, memorable guitar playing and my contributions as a woman in music... but the music is everything and it has nothing to do with politics of the women's liberation movement."
Remler bore deep scars of her longstanding addiction to heroin. While on tour in Australia, she died of heart failure at the age of 32 at the Connels Point home of music Ed Gaston
to watch a Video of Emily