Bailey’s massive talent and technique would ordinarily make the gender issue completely irrelevant. Bringing it to the fore at this time is her current record, A New Promise [MCG Jazz], a tribute to another female jazz guitarist—the late Emily Remler. “Maybe a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have been comfortable enough with myself to do this record,” Bailey admits. “I have always tried to not call attention to the fact that I am a woman guitarist. But now that I have been out there proving myself I felt comfortable doing it.”
Tomaro’s arrangements are supportive, exciting, and occasionally startling. On Remler’s tune, “East To Wes,” there is a section that sounds like Bailey playing a synth-guitar. “It’s trombone, soprano saxophone, and guitar. It’s Emily’s solo. Mike transcribed it and we learned it and played it,” she reveals. “Originally it was written for the whole sax section to play, but it was too much so it got paired back to the just the three of us.”
Anyone who has seen Bailey play, whether with bassist Richard Bona, sax man Gary Thomas, or with her organ trio, knows that joy is a major element in the guitarist’s music: the terpsichorean movement of her fingers on the heavy top/light bottom roundwound strings of her instrument, and the smile that plays across her face as she deftly navigates complex changes help translate that pleasure to the listener. The joy was tempered, though, during her research for this record. “The journey involved going to the “All Things Emily” website where I learned how painful it was back in the ’80s, having to deal with being the only woman jazz guitarist on the scene.
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