In this article, we’ll take a look at some of her recordings which not only display a talented , but also hint at what might have come in the future.
began her recording career in 1981 and maintained a steady flow of releases both as a bandleader and side- until her untimely death in 1990.
This tragic end, aged just 32, came whilst on tour in Australia as a result of drug addiction.
Remler inherited her main Gibson ES-330) from her brother, and began playing at just age 10. (a
The Clayton Brothers – It’s All In The Family (1981)
After studying at Berklee College of Music, Remler made a home in and . , where she set to work playing at the local
Upon arriving in the city, Remler set to work introducing herself to as many musicians as possible and an early connection with guitarist John Scofield led to a meeting with bassist John Clayton in 1980 who was suitably impressed with the youngster.
After the jam, Clayton offered Remler to join them on a Clayton Brothers recording. So she went to California and played on the album which, unfortunately, is album is rather hard to come by these days.
Her first recorded effort under the label was ‘Firefly’, which featured two original compositions.
In an interview with People magazine in 1982, Remler said that, “I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavy-set black man with a big thumb, like .”
Like many female instrumentalists trying to break into at the time, she was subject to prejudice; ‘Firefly’ was an essential step in putting her firmly on the map as a player, proving to the old guard that she was more than capable of carrying the torch.
“When I got a job the guys would look at me with something bordering on panic,” she told Statesman Journal in 1981. “To them, a girl plus a adds up to folk music and they were afraid I’d screw up the gig.”
On the back of the Firefly success, Remler was offered an extension on her contract with for three additional albums.
It wasn’t long before became one of the hottest tips on the US scene, with legendary telling People Magazine in 1982 that, “I’ve been asked many times who I think is coming up on the to carry on the tradition, and my unqualified choice is Emily.”
Catwalk was released in 1985 and, alongside a legendary rhythm section of Eddie Gomez (bass) and (drums), it was a massive step forwards in her career.
The first of Remler’s releases to feature exclusively original compositions, it showcases a melting pot of influences such as Brazilian music, Indian sounds, Latin and African polyrhythms. The album is certainly eclectic.
In an interview shortly after the album’s release, Remler stated that “This is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
She wasn’t alone, with fellow the . one particularly vocal supporter of
– Mistreated But Undefeated (1985)
Despite just a few years after her debut, by the mid-80s Remler was in demand as a featured soloist and guest too.
Her performance on a track from this the 1985 album Soular Energy by bass legend is just one such example.
It was a chance for her to dig out her chops and display the depth of emotion which can be found in her playing.
This is certainly worth listening to for anyone looking to build up a picture of her development as a .
East to Wes (1988)
Between 1986 and 1988, Remler took a break from recording to concentrate on battling drug addiction. She spend time in Pittsburgh, before moving to the New York jazz scene for the final part of her career.
Back and ready to record, East To Wes is (as the name suggests) a tribute to and features pianist (who had been her pianist on ‘Firefly’), bassist Buster Williams (who had worked with both Herbie Hancock and ) and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums.
Once again, Remler continues to show her original voice in East To Wes may have all the hallmarks of a tribute album, but in reality it used the music of the great as a springboard for her own explorations. ;
As noted in the Penguin Guide to on CD, “Remler’s playing actually shows how unlike Wes she really was: harder of tone, her solos more fragmented yet equally lucid.”
The album features three original compositions: ‘Ballad for a Music Box’, ‘ for Herb’ (presumably named after her long-time mentor ), and the title track ‘East to Wes’.
Whilst not necessarily her most original work ‘East to Wes’ is considered by many to be an excellent example of her skills as a .
– Waiting for Spring (1989)
Whilst her star was still strong, Remler continued to work as a side- and guest with fellow artists.
Released in 1989 (just a year before Remler’s death, and a year after ‘East to Wes’) ‘Waiting for Spring’ (GRP records) was led by pianist and reached number one on the Billboard Albums chart.
Remler features on the first eleven of the twelve tracks and was something of a victory for a who had struggled to be taken seriously early in her career.
Perhaps coincidently given its new direction, the album was also a turning point for Benoit, whose previous efforts were not received in the same emphatic fashion as Waiting For Spring.
The album is beautiful, featuring some incredibly elegant playing from Remler.
Some standout moments for Remler include the second half of ‘After The Snow Falls’, the relentless ‘Cabin Fever’, and a standout minute or so in ‘Funkarello’, in which she makes use of octaves, in true fashion.
passed away on May 4th, 1990, as a result of a heart attack connected to her past drug additions.
As well as leaving behind a small but exquisite discography from the 1980s, a posthumous album entitled ‘This is Me’ came out in 1990 on Justice Records.
Fresh and innovative – featuring a synthesiser, of all things – it hints at the creativity and forward-thinking music that we might have been treated to in the coming years.
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!