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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Emily Remler: A Musical Remembrance

Emily Remler was a brilliant guitarist, at ease in musical idioms from Brazilian to bop. She passed away just as she was entering the prime of her career.

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  • Emily Remler,

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: album art

    "East To Wes"

  • Emily Remler

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    Photo: Ed Deasy

    The musician with her instrument.

Emily Remler was a rising-star jazz guitarist in the 1980s. Her style, influenced by Wes Montgomery, fused hard swing and lyricism with Brazilian and other forms of music, and made her one of the most compelling newcomers around. Remler did not let the notoriously sexist barriers of the jazz world deter her from her passion for playing music. Early on in her career, she landed a contract with Concord Records. Her ultimate obstacle, however, proved to be fatal: an addiction to heroin.

Remler died in Australia on May 4, 1990 at the age of 32. In this program we’ll hear music from her albums East to Wes, Take Two, and This Is Me, as well as collaborations with Larry Coryell, Ray Brown, and Susannah McCorkle. We also talk with drummer and friend of Remler, Robert Jospe, who knew and worked with her in the mid-1980s while she was staying in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Watch Emily Remler play “Moanin’”:

One of Remler’s last performances,”How Insensitive,” in Australia:

A solo performance of “Afro Blue”:

Music Heard On This Episode

In Your Own Sweet Way
Emily Remler — Take Two (Concord, 1982)
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In Your Own Sweet Way
Emily Remler — Take Two (Concord, 1982)

Notes: Dave Brubeck composition.

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Daahoud
Emily Remler — East to Wes (Concord, 1988)

Notes: Clifford Brown composition. With Hank Jones on piano.

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Snowfall
Emily Remler — East to Wes (Concord, 1988)

Notes: Remler's arrangement of Claude Thornhill's composition.

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Mozambique
Emily Remler — Catwalk (Concord, 1984)

Notes: Emily Remler composition.

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In a Sentimental Mood
Emily Remler — Firefly (Concord, 1981)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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How Insensitive
Larry Coryell/Emily Remler — Together (Concord, 1985)

Notes: Antonio Carlos Jobim composition.

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So Danco Samba (I Only Dance the Samba)
Susannah McCorkle — Sabia (Concord, 1990)

Notes: Antonio Carlos Jobim composition. With Scott Hamilton on tenor sax and Emily Remler on guitar.

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Mistreated But Undefeated Blues
Ray Brown — Soular Energy (Concord, 1985)

Notes: With Emily Remler on guitar, Red Holloway on tenor sax, and Gene Harris on piano.

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Majestic Dance
Emily Remler — This Is Me (Justice, 1990)

Notes: Emily Remler composition.

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Afro Blue
Emily Remler — Take Two (Concord, 1982)

Notes: Emily Remler solo guitar performance.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • David Vaughan

    It is good to see a site dedicated to Em. She was a very close friend and I live her. I miss her beyond words.

  • Duncan

    I took a so-called “master class” with her in the late 80s, when I was about 15. I put quotes around it because a lot of the people in the class, me included, were a long way from mastery. She was pretty patient with us ;) . She was really impressive, and she inspired me to work harder (and taught me some slick stuff as well). Hard to believe she was almost 10 years younger then than I am now- she had a commanding presence when the guitar was in her hands.

    I hadn’t realized that heroin was involved in her death- I always thought it was just one of those freak things. I remember seeing a quote from her about being, in reality, a heavyset black man, a la Wes. I wonder if the mystique she had around jazzmen of the past led her that way. Anyway, people of her calibre don’t come along that often. Such a shame that she died so young.

  • CristianStar

    There are so many people who die from drugs.It is sad to hear that one more died because of this.Drugs should disappear and never come back.I guess it is very hard to let drugs go out of your life once you have tried them.

    ___________________________________________________________________________
    heroin addiction help

  • VINCE FILOGOMO

    I met Emily in manhattan in the early eighties. I use to go to her apartment at west 25th st. I remember one time I was there and I was talking about Ted Greene and how much I liked his playing. She started telling me she was a friend of his and she had his phone number. She wanted me to call him up. I was reluctant but all of a sudden she called him up  and gave me the phone and I started talking to Ted about music. She was a call chick and a great guitar player and will be missed.

    VINCE FILOGOMO

  • DougGroothuis

    David: I am so sorry. I am just discovering her amazing music. Best, Doug Groothuis

  • Jeff Volk

    So similar to Lenny Breau, in a female form. Different style, a bit faster trajectory, but strikingly similar bio.

    Unbelievable virtuosity, tremendous dedication, wonderful mentor, fatal drug problem.

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