Emily Remler (September 18, 1957 – May 4, 1990) was a Jewish American jazz guitarist who rose to prominence in the 1980s. She recorded seven albums of hard bop, jazz standards and fusion guitar before dying of heart failure at the age of 32 at the Connells Point home of musician Ed Gaston, while on tour in Australia.


Born in New York City, Remler began to play the guitar at the age of ten. Initially inspired by hard rock and other popular styles of music, she experienced a musical epiphany during her studies, from 1974 to 1976, at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She began to listen to such legendary jazz greats as Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. She took up jazz with a ferocious intensity, practicing almost constantly, and never looked back. After leaving Berklee, she performed in blues and jazz clubs in New Orleans, working with bands such as FourPlay and Little Queenie and the Percolators before beginning her recording career in 1981. She was championed by guitar great Herb Ellis, who referred to her as "the new superstar of guitar".[1]

In an interview with People magazine, she once said of herself: "I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavyset black man with a big thumb, like Wes Montgomery." ~People Magazine 1982~

Recorded for the famous Concord label, Remler's albums showcase the diverse influences of a fast developing artist who quickly developed a distinctive style through versions of standard tunes and genres. Her first album as a band leader Firefly won immediate acclaim and her bop guitar on the follow up Take Two was equally well received. Transitions and Catwalk traced the emergence of a more individual voice, with many striking original tunes, while her love of Wes Montgomery shone through on the stylish East to Wes.

When the rhythm section is floating, I'll float too, and I'll get a wonderful feeling in my stomach. If the rhythm section is really swinging, it's such a great feeling, you just want to laugh —Emily Remler

In addition to her recording career as a band leader and composer, Remler played in blues groups, on Broadway and with artists as diverse as Larry Coryell, with whom she recorded an album entitled Together, and the singer Rosemary Clooney. She played for the Los Angeles version of the show 'Sophisticated Ladies' from 1981 to 1982 and produced two popular guitar instruction videos. She also worked as guitarist for Astrud Gilberto. In 1985 she won the ‘Guitarist Of The Year’ award in DownBeat Jazz Magazine’s international poll. In 1988 she was 'Artist in Residence' at Duquesne University and in 1989 received Berklee's Distinguished Alumni award.

She married Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander in 1981, the marriage ending in 1984.

When asked how she wanted to be remembered she remarked:

"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 or the women’s liberation movement."

Two tribute albums were recorded after her death, Just Friends volume one and two, featuring contributions from Herb Ellis, David Benoit, Bill O’Connell and David Beberg among many others. In 2006 the Skip Heller Quartet recorded a song called "Emily Remler" in her memory.


Studio albums

  • 1981: Firefly
  • 1982: Take Two
  • 1983: Transitions
  • 1984: Catwalk
  • 1985: Together - with Larry Coryell
  • 1988: East to Wes
  • 1990: This is Me


  • 1991: Retrospective, Volume One: Standards
  • 1991: Retrospective, Volume Two: Compositions


  1. New York Times article

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Emily Remler. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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