What Was She Thinking..
It's been a tremendous experience for me personally, this journey to Emily. I've been exposed to great music and so many artists I would have never stumbled upon otherwise. The warm and wonderful sounds of guitarist Jane Miller, the immense repertoire of David Benoit's piano, the seven string wonder of Steve Masakowski, the cool jazz sensations of flutist Jan Leder and the marvelous and dynamic voice of Susannah McCorkle to mention a few. And likewise, it's been a pleasure to be reacquainted with the works of those that came before, names like Charlie Christian, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herb Ellis and Wes Montgomery.
It has filled my head full of borrowed memories from those that shared.
I am now able to picture Emily, sitting in a backstage room, involved in a dramatic discussion about Coltrane's influence and music, as passersby can only see arms and hands highly animated, but no clue for the reason. Later, in Yonkers, listening in on a quite conversation between musicians, a confession of envy for a more normal life, and then further on, in Pittsburgh, a remembrance of a stolen moment between Emily and a young Harry Connick Jr., on an empty stage, embraced in dance, joyful, laughing, relaxed and immersed in life.
Such intimate and vivid images and words for me to carry around and color the way I see her now.
How extraordinary is a life that keeps you searching and finding, listening and playing, learning and appreciating, long after the physical becomes the spiritual?
For me this journey has been one of privilege and the reward will be in the sharing with you.
Anything you could ask about me is quite inconsequential but if you want to know how Emily's sound found me, here's my story. It was serendipity. In December of 2004 I decided to take guitar lessons again after years of layoff.
As it happened, lessons started slowly at my local music store - a good beginning for my rusty fingers, one that allowed me time to ease back into the structure of music but it would be some months later before my ears fell upon the polished jazz stylings of John Horne, a master guitarist and equally dedicated teacher who would inevitably change the course of my interests and abilities. By only my second lesson, John formally introduced me to Wes Montgomery's Sundown and my world has never been the same. From there it was only a matter of time in finding Emily. As I began to filter through the resources of his website, images would occasionally appear of his favorite albums and this is where by fortune and fate I first saw her name on his recommendation of, East to Wes.
How could I not be curious to know more about the young lady on the cover poised over a fret board with such a confident smile?
What has happened since my learning began led me on this somewhat obsessive journey. The more I heard, the more I wanted to know but the more I wanted to know, the less there was to find.
This website grew out of that initial frustration and the desire to discover all things about Emily.
I definitely Get her which made me want to Give her name a lasting place to be searched out and admired.
I hope you find your time spent on this website informative and enriching. Please feel free to let me know if there are other resources or material I've overlooked that would be useful to searchers of Emily.
..... as for my personal recommendations ....
This Is Me ~~ Love the latin flavor and the direction she was going with her own distinct voice and vocabulary.
East To Wes~~ Bold melodies and a hard bebop core make this one of her most vaulted statements.
Catwalk ~~ Because she was testing her own boundaries and finding new expressive techniques and beginning to trust her compositional instincts.
Jazz Masters Guitar Show ~~ Three of the best solo jazz guitar performances ever caught on tape from her. Okay, the dress IS hideous but still her playing is on fire.
Individual songs that do it for me:
Afro Blue ~~ The most perfect interpretation that can be played on solo guitar...
You Know What I'm Sayin' (solo live version) ~~ Has a strong center of gravity with clean changes and a defined rhythm. A beautiful display of her genius for presenting simplicity of sound from complex structure.
Five Years ~~ Great mix of her guitar against a backdrop of swirling violins and bright trumpet play. so different in it's exploration of full orchestration and leans toward her desire to compose scores for film.
Majestic Dance ~~ (solo live version) The bassline is everything.
Transitions ~~ A fretless bass gives it the right temper, the trumpet adds some Spanish flair and Emily polishes it to perfection. A bold statement for where she was headed.
Pedals ~~ This original Emily composition from Catwalk, has come to represent the anthem of her life for me: playful childlike melodies of innocence progress and mature, become thoughtful and confident then move from light to dark, serene to chaotic and back again to sweet timbres of hope and resolution. Her life story is in this song if you listen and is never more evident than what is captured in this live version from Ottawa.
By far and away, I totally relish the few songs available that are complete solo efforts which are mostly from her video lessons and the The Guitar Jazz show, but there is also a great setlist available from the New England Jazz Society, who archived a live performance featuring Emily at the Worcester Jazz Festival from 1985 and highlights some of her most intimate solo playing ever captured on audio. These solo performances highlight her mastery of what she sought to teach and fulfill in her own playing: to stand on your own and" learn to make that change" - to fill the spaces in-between chords in a way that allows the soloist to convey all aspects of a song to the listener without a band behind you. To be your own rhythm, lead and bass, all in one.
Listening to... (click artists names for more info)
1. Lenny Breau ~ was way too cool for school. Lenny's been gone for quite some time now but his masterful techniques and consummate style will be with us forever.
3. Randy Runyon ~ New kid on the block and boy does he have chops. There's not a better duo guitar version for All The Things You Are, than this swinging rendition on his rookie release album appropriately titled: Arrival.
4. Mimi Fox & Greta Matassa ~ Two of the finest ladies in jazz join forces and shine. Great chemistry. The Latin influenced version of Take the A Train is stellar.
5. Metheny-Mehldau ~ Metheny just keeps doing it for me ~ He reaches back to his well known roots and deliveries that classic Metheny sound we fell in love with years ago.
For music from The Jazztet's featured guitarist John Horne visit him @ johnhorneguitar.com
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