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Diary Entry

Elegy for Emily Remler

Poem by Geoff Page
It’s great to be here in Perth and I really like it so much I’m telling people I want to move here (laughs)

Here she is in Perth at last,

as far away from New York as

it’s possible to get —

except maybe the moon.

It’s May 8, 1989.

We’re at Hyde Park Hotel.

She joins three locals on the stage:

Ray Walker on guitar;

Brian Bursey on the bass and Gary

France on drums — ‘from Syracuse,

New York,’ as Emily will wisecrack 

later. We have bootleg of it —

never quite released.

The tape is fine except the cymbals

sound a little out of phase.

Ray Walker is on rhythm but

he gets his solo share.

It can be hard to tell between them

but Emily’s the one who mainly

chases after risk —

as in ‘Tenor Madness’, 

the tune she left on Youtube. (See 

above). The Perth take is much wilder —

no cameras dancing in and out,

just a room that has the knowledge.

This trio on the western edge

of jazz around the world

is more than satisfied to have

a visit from the core,

this lady with technique to burn,

who knows her bossa nova,

who makes it seem as if the ghost

of Wes is sitting in.

The set-list’s unremarkable

but none the worse for that:

songs from Hollywood and Broadway

(‘Yesterdays’ and ‘Softly as …’,

‘What’s New?’ and ‘Secret Love’);

two bossas by Jobim

(‘Triste’, ‘How Insensitive’)

two tunes from Miles and Sonny Rollins

(‘All Blues’, ‘Tenor Madness’).

Plus some Monk and Clifford Brown.

‘Days of Wine and Roses’ too,

sadder now in retrospect,

remembering the film.

The tape is raw, unedited.

We hear the space between the songs,

her off-mike chatter with the guys,

calling tunes and keys and tempos.

Emily’s announcements,

properly preserved, 

are wry and humorous at times —

and not at all ungrateful that

this room so far away from home

appreciates so much.

She hears it in the clapping surely,

a whistle here and there,

set off by wild intensities

not to be foreseen or willed.

They bring her back to do an encore

(Bill Evans’ ‘Funkallero’) —

another one who died too soon.

The voice that bids the crowd goodnight

is young and sure, as if it had

another fifty years or more.

Gary France that night could see 

no sign, although he knew the rumours.

‘Friendly’, ‘Nice’, ‘Always supportive’

‘No dirty looks,’ he says. “

Geoff Page