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Jazz Guitar Licks: Emily Remler

There are not a lot of female jazz guitarists. Emily Remler was one of them, but unfortunately she died much too soon after a heart attack at the age of 32.






Emily Remler's main influence was, like many other jazz guitarists, Wes Montgomery.

Between 1974 and 1976 Emily studied at Berklee where she graduated at the age of 18.

In 1980 she recorded her first album : Firefly.  She was only 24 when she recorded this album, but listening to her playing you would think she had a lot more experience behind her.Following this album she played with a lot of well known players like Monty Alexander and Larry Coryell, with whom she recorded a duo album.


Recommended listening: Catwalk

Emily Remler Licks 1

The first bar of this lick uses a D major 7 arpeggio which is a common substitute for Bm7.  Playing a Dmaj7 arpeggio instead of a Bm7 arpeggio gives us a richer sound because of the 9 (c#, the 7 of Dmaj7).

The rest of the lick Emily uses a rhythmic idea which she transposes harmonically.


Listen & Play

Emily Remler Lick 1

Emily Remler Licks 2

This is a bluesy lick that you can take from Emily’s style of playing and add to your Jazz Blues repertoire. The trill lick that starts bar 2 is something that Emily used a lot in her playing. Notice that the 3rd of G7 (B) is played on beat 4 of the second bar, anticipating that chord by a full beat before the harmony catches up with the lick.


Listen & Play

Emily Remler Lick 2

Emily Remler Licks 3

A short but fun lick, this phrase uses two of Emily’s characteristic linear concepts to build a two-bar line over C7:

  • The first half of bar 1 features a string-skipping phrase, that starts on the 7th and the uses the 9th and a lower-neighbor tone to complete that idea, both concepts that Emily liked to use in her lines.
  • There is a descending 3rd line that finishes the lick, moving chromatically down the neck from the 6th to the 5th of C7, with 3rd intervals below each descending chromatic note.


Listen & Play

Emily Remler Lick 3

Emily Remler Licks 4

This next lick uses triads to outline the ii-V-I7 chords that would be found in the last phrase of a jazz blues chord progression in C.

  • The Am triad is used to outline the 5-7-9 of Dm7 and the 9-11-13 of G7.
  • Then, there is a G triad over G7 which finishes on an Ab triad over C7, outlining the R-#9-#5 of that chord.

Using triads, both inside and outside the changes, was something that Remler loved to used in her playing, and something that should be explored outside the context of this lick.


Listen & Play

Emily Remler Lick 4

Emily Remler Licks 5

This lick sums up a lot of the previous ideas we’ve seen in this lesson.

  • There are triads in bar 2.
  • The trill lick in bar 3.
  • The descending chromatic 3rds in bar 4.
  • And just for good measure there are ascending stacked 4th intervals in bar 1, another classic Remler sound.

This is a tricky lick to get under your fingers, so take it slow in the woodshed and work it out with a metronome at various tempos before you take it to a jam or gigging situation.


Listen & Play

Emily Remler Lick 5


Leaving a huge legacy when she passed away at a too early age, Emily Remler is a giant of jazz guitar with a wealth of material to study, listen to, and enjoy.



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