Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Emery, James (Patrick)

Emery, James (Patrick), guitarist/composer; b. Youngstown, Ohio, 21 December 1951, 9:20 p.m. His father, Alva Emery, played trumpet and his mother, Rosemary, played piano. His brothers are Joe (b. 1953, Youngstown, Ohio), an alto player and John (b. 1967, Cleveland, Ohio) a guitar player. Both sisters, Regina (b. 1955, Youngstown, Ohio) and Mary (b. 1964, Cleveland, Ohio), played piano. James is married to Colleen and they have a daughter, Hannah (b. 1992, New York City), who plays clarinet and piano. James studied with Ann Stanley, 1963-67, David Trader, 1966, Ralph Russo, 1968, at Cleveland St. U., 1969-71, at City College of NY, 1985, and with Robert Aldridge, 1995-2001.

Emery was born in Youngstown, Ohio and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He began playing organ at age six and at age ten switched to the guitar.  He studied classical guitar with Ann Stanley (a violinist in George Szell's Cleveland Orchestra as well as a wonderful classical guitarist and educator), David Trader, Ralph Russo and the legendary modern jazz guitarist Bill DeArango. Emery studied composition and music theory at Cleveland St. U. and City College of NY. He has also studied composition and orchestration privately with composer Robert Aldridge of Montclair, NJ.

Emery moved to New York City in 1974 and since that time, he has performed his works in frequent international concert tours. He has toured throughout North America and Europe many times and has also performed throughout East Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa and at many international jazz festivals including Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Zurich, New York, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Saalfelden, Willisau, Leverkusen, Moers, Graz, Lovere, Groningen, Cracow, Wiesen, Newport, and others. Emery leads his own trio, quartet, sextet and septet and performs solo concerts.
His work Transformations (Music for 3 Improvisers and Orchestra, now on CD), was premiered at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria by the modern music orchestra Klangforum Wien, conducted by Emilio Pomarico. Joining Emery as soloists are Tony Coe (tenor sax and clarinet) and Franz Koglmann (flugelhorn).

In 1977, Emery  co-founded the String Trio of New York, along with bassist and co-founder John Lindberg, the String Trio features violinist Rob Thomas. Former violinists included Regina Carter, Charles Burnham, Billy Bang and Diane Monroe. The Trio has commissioned Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Davis, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Helias, Joe Lovano, Bobby Previte and Wadada Leo Smith to write for the group and they have featured Lovano, Davis, Oliver Lake, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars as guest artists.

As a sideman, he has performed and recorded with many of the leading lights of creative music, including Henry Threadgill, Joe Lovano, Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, Leroy Jenkins, Muhal Richard Abrams, Karl Berger, the Human Arts Ensemble, Gerry Hemingway, John Zorn, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Franz Koglmann, Thurman Barker, Wadada Leo Smith and others.

For 20 years, James Emery lived with his wife Colleen in Greenwich Village, in New York City. Soon after the birth of their daughter Hannah, they moved around 1991 to Warwick, NY, about 50 miles NW of the city. When Emery is not composing or performing, he enjoys spending time with his family, collecting art and observing nature.

Artlife (1985); Exo Eso (1987); Turbulence (1991); Standing On A Whale Fishing For Minnows (1996); Spectral Domains (1997); Luminous Cycles (2001); Fourth World (2002); Transformations (2003)
String Trio of New York: First String (1979), Area Code 212 (1981), Common Goal (1983), Rebirth of a Feeling (1984), Natural Balance (1985), & Jay Clayton (1987), Ascendant (1990), Time Never Lies (1991), Intermobility (1992), An Outside Job (1993), Octagon (1992), Blues...? (1993), Happy Valley Blues (1996), Faze Phour - 20th Anniversary Retrospective (1997); Gut Reaction (2003)
As sideperson:
Henry Threadgill: Song Out of My Trees (1993), Makin' A Move, Columbia  (1994); Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra (Koln) (1978), Composition No. 94, Golden Years of New Jazz (1980); Leroy Jenkins: For Players Only  (1975), Urban Blues (1985); Wadada Leo Smith: Rastafari, Gramm, Kabell  (1984), Who Killed David Walker? (1984); Human Arts Ensemble: Junk Trap (1978); Live at Tilburg (1978); Thurman Barker: Voyage (1984), The Way I Hear It (1986), Time Factor (2001); Gerry Hemingway: Songs  (2003); Franz Koglmann; Don't Play, Just Be (2003)
Unissued recordings:
James Emery and Anthony Braxton, studio recording from Florence, Italy, 1992. Five new works by Emery, partial recording of No. 167 by Braxton.
Many live tapes with Human Arts Ensemble, Anthony Braxton, String Trio of New York, Leroy Jenkins, etc, (1975 - 2003)

Radio and TV broadcasts:
NPR Morning Edition
NPR Live Broadcast from the Library of Congress
Numerous shows on WKCR, Columbia U., NYC
Several Live broadcasts on WNYC,  NYC
Interview on WRTI, Philadelphia
Live Broadcasts and interviews in Germany, France, Holland, Austria,
Belgium, India, Japan, Canada and various locations in the USA.

Lee Jeske: Profile. James Emery, in: Down Beat, 50/05 (May 1983)
Joe Woodard: James Emery. To Play Unconventional Music You Need Unconventional Techniques, in: Frets Magazine, Jun.1986
More Magazine and newspaper articles:
Jazz Times
The Wire (UK)
Cuadernos du Jazz (Spain)
Jazzthetic (Germany)
Jazz Podium (Germany)
Jazz Thing (Germany)
Gitarre und Bass (Germany)
Stereo (Germany)
Guitar Player
Guitar World
Reviews and/or interviews in New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe
Music Universe, Music Mind (Robert Sweet)
Turning Corners, The Life and Music of Leroy Jenkins (Carl Baugher)
Mixtery, For Anthony Braxton (Graham Lock)

Websites interviews:
In July, 2003 Down Beat selected Emery as one of "66 great six-stringers"
Guggenheim Fellowship, 1995
NEA Fellowship (1985, 1994)
New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (1986, '90, '00)
Cary Trust (1991, '96, '99)
Meet the Composer/Rockefeller/AT&T program (1991)
Meet the Composer's Commissions USA program  (1999)
MTC/Lila Wallace Jazz Program  (1994)

Contact information:

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