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Kovalcheck, Steven

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This study is a biography of jazz guitarist Emily Remler, including a comprehensive narrative of her life and commentary on her unique improvisational and compositional style. Remler’s career, while short, included seven albums as a leader, eleven recordings as a sideperson, and performances and recordings with many of the most important jazz musicians working in the 1980s, including Hank Jones, Larry Coryell, Buster Williams, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, John Scofield, Astrud Gilberto, Rosemary Clooney, Susannah McCorkle, Monty Alexander, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Vidakovich, Steve Masakowski, Bill Berry, Marshall Royal, Snooky Young, Herman Riley, Lawrence Brown, John Abercrombie, Mick Goodrick, Ray Brown, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Tommy Flanagan, Rufus Reid, Billy Hart, David Benoit, John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Eddie Gomez, Ra-kalam Bob Moses, Joe Pass, Martin Taylor, James Williams, Terry Clarke, and Don Thompson. She was endorsed by many major figures in jazz guitar, with Herb Ellis stating “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... Emily Remler is my choice for the new Super Star of the guitar.”1 Her biography is compiled from magazine articles, recordings, interviews, newspaper articles, and new interviews conducted by the author with people who knew her well. This account of her 1 Mike Hall, “New Woman on Jazz Scene Lives Up to Billing,” The Clarion-Ledger, 3 January 1983, 3F. life offers previously unavailable insight into her musical development, her influences, and her personality, and allows her recordings and development to be placed into the context of her life events. A timeline of major life events, recordings and performances is constructed. In addition, many of Remler’s solos and compositions are analyzed, including all solos from her first and final hard-bop recordings. Remler’s improvisational and compositional voices are codified and considered within the context of Remler’s stated influences, including Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, John Coltrane, and Pat Metheny. This information is considered alongside observations made by Remler’s musical associates to demonstrate Remler’s development from a talented young guitarist with many disparate influences into a fully-formed improviser with a distinct approach deserving of wider recognition by her death in 1990.


291 pages

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Copyright is held by the author.

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