A page reserved for personal glimpses and good words offered from those that knew her best.
Hi, everybody…my name is Celia Vaz. I am a musician, guitar player and arranger, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I attended Berklee College of Music from 1972 thru 1976. Berklee not only taught me a lot about beeing a musician but it gave me the opportunity of meeting great musicians. Brazilian Music was very apreciated by most of the students there, and this is how I met Emily. We used to sit on the corridor’s floor and play guitar in between classes. She taught me some jazz improvisation and I taught her some brazilian rhythms and we, definately, had a great time. I found out what a good player she was right away. Back in Brazil I followed her career. It was a great surprise watching her video class playing Jobin’s “Red Blouse”, and hearing her say she got the bossa nova feel on the guitar from a Brazilian woman she met at Berklee…thanks, Emily. I miss you…love, Celia.
I hope I can fill in some of the blank parts of Emily’s last years. I met her one night in 1987 in a diner on Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn, NY. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I had just come from an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting and our ritual would be to meet up at a coffee shop after some meetings. I sat down and joined the conversation and Emily and I just seemed to connect. She had about 5 months clean at the time and I was coming up on 2 years clean. I didn’t know who she was at the time and when she told me she was a jazz guitarist I truly wasn’t thoroughly impressed. Before we parted that evening she asked me ( as a recovering addict) for my phone number. This wasn’t unusual for us to share phone numbers as a support network, but I said I don’t usually give my number to women with less than a year clean. She replied, it’s ok, I’m more like one of the guys. I laughed, not knowing exactly how to take that, but gave her my number. I don’t recall how or when we first connected, but Emily was clearly having hard time staying clean…. but she “was” staying clean. At this time she was living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. She was living with Jay Ashby at the time. I had met him a couple of times briefly either going to or coming from a meeting with Emily. I recall her 6th month clean. Celebrating a milestone with her. At some point soon after, Emily and Jay went their separate ways. Emily and I became very close. We hung out together just about everyday and she laughing called us “each other’s biggest fan”, “Ya know what I’m sayin’?” She would say that all the time, hence the song title. I was so impressed with her deep side, her dark side, her playful side and her desperate side. She was as complicated as her music. She had a way of letting people in just enough to love her, but still keep them intimately out. I remember encouraging her to stay clean and supporting her as hard as I could. I was there for her whether she needed me or not. She finally celebrated a year clean, and it was such a gigantic feat for her. I was so happy for her and hoped she felt proud as well. Somehow she managed to close out her goodness, greatness and love from herself as well. She struggled mentally with OCD and depression, I could not help her. I could only be there. I hope that is what she loved about me. I would travel to Ft. Lauderdale, Pittsburg or any other place I could to be with her. I realize one day after one of those trips, that we could never and would never be ….. we, So we went our separate ways. We stayed in touch and she called when she needed support, but I had moved on at that point as well. She called me one night from San Francisco. It was 3am. She wanted to talk. She told me she was leaving for Australia tomorrow. I said “Are you still clean?” She was, but I could hear the pain in her voice. She said it’s late, I’m sorry I called you. I said it’s ok, call me when you get back, She said ok. We never got to speak again. I got a phone call at work from a friend telling me she died, it’s in the newspaper. I went to her memorial service. Mr. Remler greeted me. I had never met him and didn’t know how much he knew about Emily’s life, so when he asked how I knew Emily I could only say we were friends. I lived near her in Brooklyn. I stayed till the end of the service and left quickly with a sick feeling in my stomach knowing the world had not lost a great musician, the world had lost an amazing human being full of caring, loving kindness as well as darkness and pain. To this day I feel her love, her kindness and her darkness and pain. We love you Em…… still.
On this 19th anniversary of your passing –
thinking of you, Em . . . as always
Emily was my close friend and roomate at Berklee in 1975-76. She was 17 and I was 18 years old. I remember sitting on our beds and playing “How Insensitive” – Emily on guitar of course and me on flute — reading out of our dog eared copy of the “Real Book”. Our little record player sat on top of the dresser — and a day didn’t go by where we wouldn’t put on “Some Skunk Funk” and dance around the room singing all the Brecker Brothers riffs. Two other albums in heavy rotation in our dorm room were “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison and of course Emily’s Wes Montgomery collection.
Emily was a beautiful person and a wonderful friend. After Berklee, we lost touch with each other – I lived in Brazil during the 80s — and when I returned only found out about her passing one day while I was working out in my local gym. CD 101.9 was on the radio there — and the announcer said “And now here’s the late great Emily Remler.” I got off the bike – went to the pay phone and called the station. I said “What do you mean the late great Emily Remler?” I was saddened and shocked.
It is heart warming to read so many tributes to her on these pages — and see how many people she touched with her music over the years.
I have to ask you was Emily a natural player or one who actually had to work really, really hard to play the way that she did? Of course maybe Emily was both of these I might guess!? Thanks, jim hahn in Maine
Hi Jim: Sorry — I haven’t checked this site in quite a while and just today saw your question. Emily worked very hard and at the same time she was a natural talent. You guessed correctly. She put in the hours — definitely. Jill
Emily Remler was a fine guitarist and a friendly person. I enjoyed playing with her very much. I certainly don’t know of any other woman guitarist but regardless of that fact, she was as good as any guitarist I’ve ever played with – and I’ve known a few.
I 1st met dear Em in 1985 in NYC. What a gorgeous vibe she had. I was booked for a tour in January of 1986 w/ Joe Farrell and unfortunately he passed away before the start date…yet, fortunately Emily took his place and we becam fast friends on the road over the next years until she sadly left. I miss her to this day and often listen to the many recordings we did on tour, both shows and rehearsals. We toured in many formats – duo,trio,quartet and she shined through all of them. I wish I could have one more minute of time with Em. I talked to her the day before she left Australia and she was looking forward to finding help for her problem when she returned. So very sad.
Thanks so much for this website dedicated to an angel.
Emily came to New Mexico booked by the New Mexico Jazz Workshop for a gig in Albuquerque. She opened for Michael Brecker at the University of New Mexico Popejoy Hall. The trio was of course Emily on guitar and Jon Gagan on bass and I played drums. I had an amazing experience playing jazz with her. We hung out after at a hotel called La Posada in downtown Albuquerque where the Brecker band was staying.
One thing I remember about the gig at Popejoy was – before the performance, Emily and I played in her dressing room. I was playing brushes on a newspaper and Emily was playing unplugged. That was a special event for me. She was a very warm and kind person that loved to play jazz.
Emily was brought back to New Mexico; this time to open for Etta James at a venue in the mountains outside of Santa Fe called the Evergreens. Emily used the same trio. We also played a club in Santa Fe called El Farol the night before.
The musical experience and the hang time were both memorable and inspiring. She had some musical genius and I enjoyed partaking.
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I was jamming away on my Fender Twin turned all the way up, at the time I was a beginning player, all I knew how to do was play some rock tunes and jam along on the guitar using the minor pentatonic scale. Anyways, during a pause in the sonic chaos I was inflicting on the neighborhood, I heard this polite knock on the door. I opened it, and there was this stunningly beautiful young woman standing there. She introduced herself; “Hi there I am Emily Remler, I am a jazz guitarist, and I was walking by and I heard you playing, and I was wondering if you would like some lessons”. At the time I was 35 years old and she was about 18, so I thought what can this little girl show me. So I handed her my guitar and she played on it, asked me to turn down the amp and make it sound clean, and she proceeded to blow my mind. I took one hour on the spot. At the time I lived on Long Beach Island New Jersey. She vacationed there every summer for a few years and every year she came she would come by and give me lessons.
Sadly, many years later I heard about her death while at a flea market in St Augustine Florida where there was a man trying out the same guitar she played in my house that first time, which was for sale that day. He is the one who told me about her death. I was shocked and saddened by it.
She is the one who gave me some of the musical ideas which I still use to this day, as I have never perused a musical education.
I was visiting my daughter in Halifax, Nova Scotia, & saw in the newspaper that she & Larry Coryell were giving a concert at the Rebeccah Cohen Auditorium. When I went there to buy tickets, I noticed that the sign in lights said LARRY CORYELL but no mention of Emily. I was outraged, & went directly to the manager & told him that Emily Remler was one of the greatest jazz guitarists in the world. When I went to the concert that night, I was pleased to see he name in lights with his; equal billing. Before the concert started, I was called to the manager’s office, & told my seat would be changed. I was seated right in front, directly down from where Emily was playing in an old T-shirt & jeans. At intermission, she motioned me to the door that led backstage; she had two guitars & a practice amp there. After she hugged me & thanked me for what I did, she asked me if I played guitar. I said “yes” & we played together for about 20 minutes. I gave her my address & phone#, & we kept in touch until her tragic death in Australia. During that time, she would send me all her CDs & instructional videos. We would talk on the phone, exchange letters, etc. I was absolutely devastated when I learned of her death in Sydney. I still listen to her CDs all the time, & will remember her lovingly until the day I die. One can only imagine what she would have accomplished if she were still alive. She was not only a great artist, but a terrific human being as well.
I was a personal friend of Emily’s, I met her when she came to Pittsburgh to handle some personal issues. She figured Pittsburgh was far enough away from New York to be able to relax.We became friends right away, being that I am a musician also.
She had already hooked up with the Duquesne thing.
After that, I played several gigs with her. One was on New Years Eve at Club “Toots Suite” where she was treated like royalty, like she deserved. We also played at a few more small venues and I remember her arguing with the drummer who announced “St. Thomas” as an island and Emily said it was a penninsula and wouldn’t play until he agreed.
I had the opportunity to go to Phile with her to Pat Martino’s house and also met her when she was here with David Benoit.
I knew she was in trouble, but felt safe with David’s group. When she told me she was going to Sydney alone, I begged her not to. as did several others, but she insisted.
The rest is history. I miss her and still think of her and this website is a Godsend!
I remember Emily sitting in her dorm room (our first year at Berklee) with her guitar in hand playing to the music of the commercials that came on while she watched the little tv in her room.
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