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Emily Bear, 15 and Composing Jazz Beyond Her Years


The opening track to Emily Bear’s latest release, “Into the Blue” earned her a Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award, presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers to honor talented young jazz artists during the earliest stages of their careers. 

“I was rehearsing for an artist residency at a jazz festival in Germany. We were rehearsing in this space with my trio. The room that we were in was called ‘The Old Office’. I messing around in between practicing the songs with my trio and I came up with ‘The Old Office’ and so I called it ‘The Old Office'.”

Not the most complicated way to come up with a tune, but that’s the story of Emily Bear’s undeniable talent.  Spontaneous, but with purpose.

“I started out playing classical music when I was around four. I’m a bit of a rebellious spirit and I like to think outside of the box more than keeping inside the lines. Which sounds really cheesy but it’s true. A few months after I got introduced to jazz. I immediately fell in love because it was something that I had a lot more freedom in. It was something completely different than I’d ever done before. I grew up bilingual, musically bilingual.”

Emily Bear says her latest record “Into The Blue” is dedicated to Quincy Jones, the producer of her previous album.

“Quincy is one of my biggest mentors and influences.  I met him when I was pretty young, I was eight years old.  He’s been a huge influence on my life, not only musically but as a person as well.  He’s incredibly down to Earth and such an incredible musician, producer, and everything that he does.  When you get into a room with him the age just kind of falls away.  It’s all about music and how much we all love it,” Bear said.  “The only difficult thing the hours.  He’s a bit nocturnal.  Our sessions started at 4p.m., and ended at 4a.m.  That was the only thing I had to get used to.  I’m thinking, ok, I have to go to sleep now and wake up at 2p.m.. That was different.”

Emily Bear performs at the St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in New York City on Saturday.  One of ten composers commissioned to create music for the event.  Bear will present the first choral piece she’s ever written.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve had my success so now I’m done. I’m at the beginning of my journey right now and there’s a lot I’m looking forward to be doing.”