It sounds very clichéd to say that many of music's best and brightest have lived fast and died young, but it is so true. From Jimi Hendrix to Charlie Parker to Patsy Cline, the 20th century was full of talented artists whose lives were cut short by their self-destructive ways. In an ideal world, Emily Remler would have had a very long career and made it to seventy or eighty; instead, the guitarist used heroin and died of a heart attack at 32. Firefly was Remler's first album as a leader, and it is a promising debut. Joined by pianist Hank Jones, bassist Bob Maize, and drummer Jake Hanna, a 24-year-old Remler delivers an enjoyable hard bop date. The album isn't groundbreaking by early-'80s standards -- although Firefly was recorded in 1981, it sounds like it could have been recorded in 1961. But there is no law stating that every young jazz musician who comes along has to reinvent the wheel, and Remler (whose influences include Wes Montgomery and Herb Ellis) brings a lot of potential to lively, swinging performances of Horace Silver's "Strollin'," McCoy Tyner's "Inception," and Montgomery's "Movin' Along." The New Jersey native also provides two original tunes ("Perk's Blues" and "The Firefly") and pleasantly surprises listeners by unearthing a pretty but lesser-known Antonio Carlos Jobim song titled "Look to the Sky." Unlike "The Girl From Ipanema," "Corcovado," or "One Note Samba," "Look to the Sky" is far from a standard; however, Remler's heartfelt interpretation demonstrates that the Jobim melody deserves to be much better known. With Firefly, Remler's recording career was off to an appealing start -- a career that should have been much, much longer.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson