Emily Remler was born in New York City on September 18, 1957 and first began to play folk guitar at the age of ten. After a short interest in rock music she became seriously interested in jazz. At the age of sixteen she encouraged her father and mother to let her go to Berklee School of Music in Boston to study jazz guitar. It was there that she ended up becoming influenced by the jazz guitar styles of Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino. She graduated in 1975 with a diploma in jazz guitar music.
In 1976 Emily Remler moved to New Orleans and started her life as a career guitarist. At first she earned a living teaching as well as playing in a rhythm and blues band called Little Queenie and The Percolators. She also played sometimes in a jazz group which included trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and singer Bobby McFerrin. The next couple of years saw Emily in the rhythm section of the band at The Fairmont Roosevelt Hotel led by Dick Stabile. In this position she had the opportunity to accompany lots of top vocalists including Nancy Wilson and Rosemary Clooney.
Emily Remler’s first important break came through jazz guitar legend Herb Ellis who heard her play in New Orleans in 1978. He arranged for her to appear with his quartet at the 1978 Concord Jazz Festival in California. In 1979 Emily transferred to New York City where she joined the backing group for singer Astrud Gilberto. Success followed success and in 1980 Remler made her very first recording as leader for the Concord Record Label. She then appeared at some major global jazz celebrations consisting of the Kool Festival in 1980 and the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1981.
Emily married jazz pianist Monty Alexander in 1981. Their marriage lasted for about 3 years. After they separated in 1984 she ended up becoming romantically involved with jazz fusion guitar player Larry Coryell and they went on to tape a duet album which was called “Together”. Her last recording project, which was a partnership with David Benoit, found her playing pop jazz and sounding a bit more individualistic than she did on her typical be bop sessions.
At this point in her life Emily Remler went back to Los Angeles and worked for a while in a theater pit orchestra. She still continued to make and record jazz club appearances obtaining growing worldwide recognition as one of the very best young jazz guitarists of the day. While she was on a 1990 show tour of Australia Emily, who had actually ended up becoming addicted to heroin, tragically collapsed and died in her hotel bedroom on May 4. She was just 32 years of ages.
During her brief life Emily Remler had ended up being an inspiration as well as a role model to more youthful female musicians. Her early passing has actually led to her being considered a legend, however in reality she was still searching for her own unique sound when she died. Unfortunately for the be bop jazz guitar community her great potential was never really fulfilled.