Creating filtered version of banner image.

Press/Reviews

Times Ledger Newspaper

 

Cambria Heights jazz musician releases second album

By Annabelle Blair

 

Queens native Carl Bartlett, Jr. and his band, The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Ensemble, continue to bring the elegance of jazz to New York.

 

The group is releasing its second CD, “Promise!,” Dec. 14, at Jazz at Kitano at the Kitano Hotel New York on East 38th Street in Manhattan.

 

Currently a resident of Cambria Heights, Bartlett grew up in St. Albans. His father and uncle, who are both members of a renowned R&B funk show and dance band, nurtured young Bartlett’s love for music. It was Bartlett’s uncle, Charles Bartlett, who introduced him to the genre with the jazz duo, Brecker Brothers, on Christmas Day in 1996.

 

The result was momentous for 14-year-old Bartlett.

 

“My life changed when I heard jazz for the first time,” Bartlett said. “I said, ‘This is what I have to do with my life.’”

 

Bartlett has since grown to become an internationally acclaimed artist and songwriter. He won second place in the jazz category of the 2015 International Songwriting Competition, a global contest with more than 18,000 entries from 120 countries. His first album “Hopeful” debuted in 2011, and all eight tunes on “Promise!” are originals, written by him.

 

Carl Bartlett said he grew up playing with his dad and uncle, and the three still play together when they can make time. His mother, whom he calls Buzz B, took all the photos for “Promise!,” including the album cover and band member photos. Bartlett’s family remains a strong source of inspiration for his music.

 

The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Ensemble has five members. Carl Bartlett is the bandleader and plays the alto saxophone. His uncle, Charles Bartlett, plays the trumpet. Yoichi Uzeki plays piano. Marcus McLaurine plays the bass and Sylvia Cuenca plays drums.

 

“Promise!” was recorded in Brooklyn in February, and Bartlett said its sound is unique because each player has a different interpretation of the music. Still, the camaraderie between band members remains strong.

 

In the seven years since his last album was made, Bartlett said his performing career had developed, as well as his personal experience as a musician.

 

“Sometimes we get taken on where we perform and how far we travel,” he said. “But, as a jazz musician, I’ve grown infinitely as an artist.”

 

Bartlett said he chose the eccentric spelling of “Promise!” because he wanted people to feel the word, promise. The capital letters make a bold statement, and the exclamation mark adds a sense of jubilation, he said.

 

“Instead of the normal way to spell it, I want to emphasize that this is what this CD embodies,” Bartlett said. “Not just promise in myself as musician, but the promise for life.”

 

The viewing party will usher in a six-or-seven-month tour for the band, which will include cities in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Florida.

 

“When you do an album, you need to tour,” Bartlett said. “I’m fortunate to have received sponsorship to go on an East Coast tour.”

 

“Promise!” will be available in-store at the Academy Records and CDs in Manhattan Dec. 13. It will also be available physically and digitally on CD Baby and digitally-only on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

 

For more information on the band and album go online to www.carlbartlettjr.com.

 

Updated 1:13 pm, November 15, 2017

©2017 Community News Group

Queens Chronicle

All that jazz, with Queens-bred passion

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016 10:30 am

by Cristina Schreil, qboro contributor

 

Just one day after winning second place in the jazz category of the International Songwriting Competition, musician Carl Bartlett Jr. looked back at the moment that led to it all. Christmas Day 1996, his uncle brought a recording by the legendary Brecker Brothers to his Cambria Heights home. Bartlett knew instantly the genre was special.

 

“I heard it and I said, this is the highest form of music,” Bartlett said, reflecting on his 14-year-old self. “It was on a much deeper level musically, it reached the core more, it wasn’t just simple lines or just repetition; it was thoughtful. I call it unbridled beauty.”

 

These days, Bartlett makes encouraging everyone to explore and appreciate jazz a top priority. He believes that with some extra information on history and the many styles falling under the umbrella of “jazz” — postbop, bebop, hardbop, progressive, abstract, avant-garde and Dixieland, to name a few — many can find an effortless, lifelong love for the music. Bartlett explains that jazz’s deep roots right here in Queens fuel a passionate scene; regular jam sessions around the borough anchor what he described as a “creative,” “swinging” and “interactive” Queens sound.

 

With a goal to step outside the walls of the usual venues and make the music part of more daily lives, Bartlett created “Jazz: The Music of Our Lifetime,” a program performed with his eponymous quintet. The ensemble, including Bartlett on saxophone, pianist Yoichi Uzeki, bassist Eric Lemon, drummer Hiroyuki Matsuura and Bartlett’s uncle, Charles Bartlett, on trumpet, performs two concerts in May. To reach broader audiences, Bartlett opted for the Central Library in Jamaica, on Saturday, May 7 and the Glen Oaks Library two weeks later.

 

The quintet’s performed similar concerts before, but audiences can now expect more robust educational demonstrations. Each concert has performances sandwiching an interactive demonstration segment. There, Bartlett draws from his teaching background (he’s instructed at Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, as well as given private lessons), and elucidates the differences between various genres. Quintet musicians demonstrate rhythms and stylistic differences, and reveal how jazz vernacular translates in performance.

 

The audience will be asked to join in, for instance by clapping to rhythms. In the second round of performances, Bartlett hopes the newly enlightened can listen with a “different set of ears.” He said the word he hears most often from listeners is “inspiration.”

 

But, he asserts he’s aware a jazz novice or casual listener can’t possibly become fluent in just one sitting. Thus, he includes a “comprehensive” handout including where to hear jazz in Queens, plus calls to action ranging from recommended jazz recordings to bigger prompts, such as pressing elected officials for support of jazz programs and concerts.

 

He stressed it’s not necessarily about converting people into scholarly critical listeners. Loving the art form can be straightforward.

 

“If you start getting into it and understanding and really hearing what things are happening, then it’s a wrap, as they say. You’re going to be pulled right in.”

 

‘Jazz: The Music of Our Lifetime’

When: Sat., May 7, 2 p.m.

Where: Central Library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

When: Sat., May 21, 3 p.m.256-04 Union Tpke.

Entry: Free. carlbartlettjr.com, queenslibrary.org

Queens Gazette

Local Express

Carl Bartlett, Jr.

The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quintet show, “JAZZ: The Music of Our Lifetime!” is coming to two branches of Queens Library, Central and Glen Oaks and it is led by an exciting, innovative artist and Queens native saxophonist Carl Bartlett Jr. Bartlett officially marked his arrival onto the jazz scene with the 2011 release of his critically acclaimed debut CD, “Hopeful.” He has since emerged as one of the leading lights in the post bop/straight ahead/contemporary jazz world today, as both a player and composer. “A tone that only the greats have the ability to attain,” raves All About Jazz, in describing the profound sonic nature of Bartlett’s rich alto sax sound, which uniquely blends alto and tenor sax timbres. In its Spring 2013 edition, the nationally and internationally renowned JAZZIZ Magazine recognized Bartlett’s gift for vivid and creative composing by featuring his original tune, “Fidgety Season,” on the prestigious JAZZIZ Compilation Disc. Bartlett has been featured in Hot House Jazz magazine, and his music has garnered glowing reviews from major industry sources, such as Jazz Inside Magazine, The Aquarian Weekly, Audiophile Audition, and more.

Recently Bartlett was named a finalist in this year’s prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC), the most prestigious songwriting contest in the world.

Bartlett was raised in St. Albans, later relocating to neighboring Cambria Heights, where he currently resides. His father, Carl Bartlett, Sr. and uncle Charles Bartlett founded a noted R&B/Latin show and dance band, named The Bartlett Contemporaries, which served as a springboard for young Carl’s interest in music.

Carl Bartlett Jr. would form his own band by the age of 19 with several friends and as a bandleader, currently Bartlett consistently performs with his own ensemble, The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet, at many preeminent jazz and cultural venues and festivals, such as JAZZ at KITANO, Smalls Jazz Club, Trumpets Jazz Club, The New Rochelle Jazz Festival, Sistas’ Place (an Honorary NYS Landmark), Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing Library Theatre, the 430-seat Elmont Memorial Library Theatre, and more, garnering sold out shows and exuberant audiences.

Bartlett is in the process of working on his sophomore CD, which is scheduled to be recorded this year and released in early/middle 2017.

The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quintet show, “JAZZ: The Music of Our Lifetime!” will be performed for free, on Saturday, May 7, 2 pm- 3:30 pm at Central Library (Jamaica), 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica; and Saturday, May 21, 3 pm- 4:15 pm, at the Glen Oaks Branch Library, 256-04 Union Turnpike, Glen Oaks.

For more information, visit : www.carlbartlettjr.com.

QG: As a young man, did you learn about the great jazz artists who came from or lived in Queens, referred to as the Queens Jazz Trail?

CB: As a young man I certainly did learn about the Queens Jazz Trail. I was also privy to many great musicians who lived in Queens, who are not on the Queens Jazz Trail map. Overall, some of my influences from these special musicians are tenor saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, John Coltrane, and Illinois Jacquet, trumpeters Louis Armstrong (Pops), and Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, and pianist/bandleader Count Basie.

QG: What’s your opinion on how much is known about the origins and appreciation of jazz, among average Americans and our young people, these days?

CB: A positive point that I’d like to state is that many young people, and average Americans do know about the origins of jazz, and appreciate the art form, greatly, because of its extraordinary feeling, and sounds, jazz can indeed be appreciated simply upon hearing it (as it was by me at age 14), by those who might not even know of its origins in New Orleans, and antecedents in Africa and Europe. However, many Americans do not, partly due to a lack of exposure to it in certain facets of our culture. Consequently, in many cases, there is not an appreciation for the music because of a lack of knowledge about jazz’s profound innovators and pioneers, and its key elements: swing, the blues, improvisation, and the overall deeply creative, expressive, and advanced nature/language, which make jazz a special, and unique art form.

QG: In your experience, is jazz much more appreciated by people overseas than by Americans?

CB: It seems so. This topic arises during so many conversations regarding jazz. Several of my musician friends and counterparts have relocated abroad because they say the scene is just too tough here in America for some (re: booking their bands at venues, and developing a fan base for their music). This is one of the major reasons why I created “JAZZ: The Music of Our Lifetime!” The need to spread the great news to the general public, en masse, about this rich, progressive, and unique art form.

QG: What can be done to educate more Americans and our young people about their musical heritage – how jazz evolved – leading to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop / rap today?

CB: A revamping of the music programs in schools would help. Documentaries, more radio programs, and regular running TV broadcasts would help, too. But, this is precisely where JAZZ: The Music of Our Lifetime! focuses. While bringing those aforementioned aspects to fruition might involve cutting through red tape, my program simply depends on bookings from the arts/programming directors at venues, in order to get it in front of the general public. So far, we’ve presented JAZZ: The Music of Our Lifetime! at several major cultural venues, to exuberant, sold out, and packed audiences.

QG: Tell us about your family members and friends’ involvement with your musical studies and later music performances.

CB: My mother, father, and uncle were instrumental in my involvement in music. My parents ensured that I had private piano lessons, starting at the age of six. This gave me a strong foundation in theory, and in reading music at a very early age. My dad is a saxophonist, so he inspired me to play the saxophone. My uncle introduced me to jazz when I was 14 years old! Finally, of great importance: My father, Carl Bartlett, Sr., and uncle, Charles Bartlett formed a noted R&B/Latin/funk/jazz show and dance band, named “The Bartlett Contemporaries,” in the ‘60s, and they are going strong today! Their band performed for Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee’s wedding, Miles Davis’ 60th birthday, and Count Basie! When I was little they would take me to their gigs, and actually have me come on stage and perform with their larger ensemble...singing, and playing saxophone. I learned the ropes, and got the opportunity to cut my teeth at a young age because of them. That’s priceless!

QG: You are a native of Queens and still reside in Cambria Heights. Where do you like to go to chill out in our borough? Do you have favorite Queens restaurants to alert all our readers about, who would happily describe themselves as foodies?

CB: I love to go to Creative Jazz Organization (CJO) Jazz Wednesday Nights at the American Legion on 204th St. and Linden Blvd., in St. Albans, and I also love to jam at The Proper Cafe, on 217th St. and Linden Blvd., in Cambria Heights, on Wednesday Nights! For a few games of pool with friends, I chill out at BQE Billiards, in Jackson Heights, and even do some bowling right across the street from the pool hall, at AMF 34th Avenue Lanes, in Woodside. For the foodies: be sure to check out Moda Grill, at 89-04 Parsons Blvd., in Jamaica. Delicious modern American cuisine, from succulent Sirloin Steaks, to Salmon Burgers, and an excellent drink selection, plus a cool vibe. And, oh yes, The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet will perform at Moda Grill on Saturday, April 30, so come on by. I love my borough!

The Montclair Times

Carl Bartlett Jr. plays Trumpets in Montclair

July 30, 2015 Last updated: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 3:59 PM

The Montclair Times

Complex, cathartic, goofy jazz at Trumpets

Saxophonist and bandleader Carl Bartlett Jr. plays Trumpets Jazz Club, 6 Depot Square, tonight, July 30, at 7:30 and 9. The concert is also a birthday celebration for him (well, two days late). When The Montclair Times spoke to him a few weeks ago, he said he loves the swinging feeling of jazz: "It's so cathartic. It can be complex and at the same time, goofy. How you play through chord changes, interact with the band, the ideas that you come up with... the level of creativity in jazz is off the charts."

Bartlett Jr. comes from a musical family: his father, Carl Bartlett Sr. and uncle Charles Bartlett have an R&B band. "On Christmas day, 1996, my first year in high school, my uncle Charles played an album by the Brecker Brothers. From that instant I knew that jazz is what I wanted to do. On Dec. 26, 1996, I picked up the sax and really went off on my jazz rampage."

For more information visit carlbartlettjr.com and trumpetsjazz.com.

- Gwen Orel

The New Rochelle Daily Voice

Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet Headlining New Rochelle Jazz Festival

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet, a New York City based jazz ensemble, will headline the sixth annual New Rochelle Jazz Festival on Sunday, July 12 from 8-10 p.m. at historic Ruby Dee Park at Library Green.

The concert is free; food and drinks will be available from festival vendors.

The festival will also feature Gil Paris on July 9, CJ Quintet featuring Courtney Johnson on July 10, and Ras Chemash the Singing Chef, Jason Anderson’s Wed. Night Big Band and many more July 11-12.

Click here for more information.

Queens Chronicle

With a musical timeline, quintet revisits jazz

Queens hardly needs an introduction to jazz.

Once a haven for musical greats such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, the borough often is called to mind alongside New Orleans and Chicago when listing bastions of the genre.

But at the Flushing Library Saturday afternoon, the Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quintet — with many members indeed hailing from Queens — sought to offer a diverse musical lesson on all things jazz. Between songs, the musicians remarked on the worldly rhythms and melodies of several continents and time periods now making up what many consider as the go-to genre for easy listening.

Before the concert, which lured a large crowd, Bartlett said that jazz is too often only played for other musicians, or for those very intimate with the music. The concert they wanted to present was for everyone.

“You heard swing, you heard a fantastic melody, you heard improvisation, you heard interplay,” Bartlett instructed the audience after “Firm Roots” by Cedar Walton.

The sound in the auditorium boomed luxuriously, filling it in bursts of satisfying melody so thick some might have thought they could scoop it up with a spoon.

After playing a carefree and flirty bossa nova piece by Joe Henderson, the quintet struck up “Fidgety Season,” composed by Bartlett, a teacher.

He said he was inspired by his students, who appear intensely antsy in June, on the cusp of summer break. The saxophone melody conjures the feeling of bathing in summer sunlight. The piano has a slight intensity to it, with emphasized off-beats capturing the emotional buildup later leading to those subtle fidgets.

The quintet, which includes Roberta Piket on piano, Sylvia Cuenca on drums, Eric Lemon on bass and Bartlett’s uncle, Charles Bartlett, on trumpet, distributed handouts with detailed notes on jazz complete with musical vocabulary. A timeline of styles and eras charts the evolution, starting with ragtime in the late 1800s, to bebop to bossa nova and present-day modern jazz.

They took listeners through a swing rhythm, which places emphasis on the off-beats in a toe-tapping way that makes the melody surge forward. They also played a classic blues song — an example of this “cornerstone of jazz,” Bartlett said — which kicked off with a sizzling call and response between the sax and trumpet.

Taking the audience back to the African slave trade of the 1600s, Bartlett said Congo Square, in the TremÈ section of New Orleans, was where slaves gathered to play. African rhythms mingled with European hymn melodies from church.

“It was not known as jazz then,” he said. “It was just, something was happening.”

The older Bartlett likened jazz to the many branches of mathematics.

“You have algebra, geometry and trigonometry,” he said. He compared swing to algebra and be-bop, which extended those chords to a new level, to geometry.

The younger Bartlett reinforced that a constant force within all forms is “that swing, that feel of jazz.”

Audience members also shifted the talk to classical music and improvisation.

“For the last 700 years, improv hasn’t been a big part of classical music,” said Piket, who added she knows classical musicians who focus on honing technique and are terrified by improvising. “For us it’s like breathing, it’s very natural.”

She added that in a different time, classical musicians like Chopin would improvise cadenzas, or flourishes, that rounded off the ends of pieces or long phrases. For jazz musicians, improv is as equal a component as the notes upon sheet music.

While the library’s elegant venue made for a sumptuous and musical afternoon, the concert was much too short, at only an hour. The quintet will have a longer set, however, at the Langston Hughes Community Library on April 25 at 2 p.m.

‘Jazz: The Music of Our Lifetime!’

When: Sat., April 25, 2 p.m.

Where: Langston Hughes Community Library,

100-01 Northern Blvd.,

East Elmhurst

Entry: Free; queenslibrary.org

All About Jazz

Carl Bartlett, Jr. First Set at the Kitano: Jazz At Kitano

Carl Bartlett, Jr.
Jazz At Kitano
New York, NY
September 25, 2014

Alto saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr.'s musical bloodlines run deep. The son of Carl Bartlett, Sr. and nephew of Charles Bartlett (who formed an R&B show and dance band "The Bartlett Contemporaries"), Carl, Jr. has the pedigree. He also has the chops. Bartlett attended the Manhattan School of Music. In his short career he has graced the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Hargrove and others. Along with the members of his quartet (Yoichi Uzeki on piano, Dylan Shamat on upright bass and drummer Dwayne "Cook" Broadnax), Bartlett performed a stellar set of originals and standards at the intimate Kitano jazz and supper club nestled within New York City's Kitano Hotel.

The crowd was abuzz with anticipation prior to the first of two sold-out sets as they settled into their seats and the musicians milled about stopping to make small talk with friends and family in the audience. At precisely 8 p.m. the band was introduced. Within a few short seconds after the initial applause died down, Bartlett, who was nattily dressed in dress slacks, a white shirt and conservative tie, thanked the audience for coming and the band settled into the up-tempo swinging groove of Coleman Hawkins' and Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You." The piece featured the young jazzman's clean smooth runs and an extended section of just drums, piano and bass. Toward the end, Bartlett returned to the forefront and led the group through to the end of the tune. At the end, Bartlett again thanked the crowd for coming and the club's booker, Gino, for the opportunity to play the room.

The next tune was the beautiful ballad, "Julie B" which Bartlett named after and on this night dedicated to his mother who was seated on stage right. He said, "Happy birthday, Mom. I hope you enjoy this." The piece definitely straddles both traditional and modern jazz featuring a beautiful soft piano opening, soulful saxophone, a nice clean tasty bass line and muted drums on which Broadnax used brushes for the main sections and occasionally mallets for the flourished on the cymbals. "Pensativa" with its bossa nova beat followed. During Cook's mini drum break, Bartlett could be seen off to the side nodding his head in unison to the syncopated time keeping, bopping to the rhythm and snapping his fingers to the beat. The tune then segued into "U.M.M.G (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)," a fast swing number composed by Billy Strayhorn.

When the medley ended, Bartlett announced that the next tune, an original called "Fidgety Season" was inspired by the children he taught at Martin Luther Middle School. The piece shifted between a waltz-like tempo and 5/4 time. The piece started smoothly and switched to a jittery tempo as the band dove into it and sped into a fever pitch behind Cook's madman drumming and Uzeki's nimble fingers dancing across the Steinway all the while Shamat remained steady supplying the underlying bass. Bartlett again took center stage, brought it down a notch and brought the tune home.

The first set came to a close with Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House." Rollins would have been proud had he heard Bartlett's 10 minute take on his classic tune. It was clean, fast and amazing.

On this evening in the intimate jazz club, the musicianship and skill put forth on the small stage was nothing less than stunning. The music had movement, life and vitality. Each of the members of the quartet could be classified as virtuosos. Bartlett's saxophone was powerful, strong and sweet with a tone that only the greats have the ability to attain, Cook played with ferocity and skill, Shamat's solid bass was both understated and driving and Uzeki's fingers danced across the ivory keys at a phenomenal speed which had to be seen to be believed. The four men should be regarded as the future of modern jazz.

Photo Credit: Christine Connallon (view more concert photos)

[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].

Hot House Jazz Magazine (September 2014)

Carl_Bartlett_Jr._Hot_House_Feature_-_CLICK_HERE_to_read..pdf

Alto saxophonist/composer Carl Bartlett, Jr. credits his father and uncle as early mentors, who, through their live stage show The Bartlett Contemporaries, exposed the young Bartlett to the rich tradition of jazz, R&B and soul. Growing up in Queens, Bartlett showed prodigious abilities in his youth, taking up piano, clarinet and trumpet, before eventually discovering his passion for the saxophone. He cites listening to a Brecker Brothers album that his uncle bought for him as a defining, "light-bulb" moment, where he discovered a hunger for learning about jazz and improvisation. "Jazz is an extremely deep and gratifyingly beautiful art form," Bartlett says.

Bartlett attended Manhattan School of Music and graduated with a Jazz Performance degree in 2004. In his short but impressive career thus far, he played with and/or opened for Wynton Marsalis, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Ayers, Antonio Hart and Roy Hargrove. At Jazz at Kitano, Bartlett's Quartet will perform music from his 2011 debut album Hopeful.

Saxophonist Carl Bartlett Jr. will perform with pianist Yoichi Uzeki, bassist Dylan Shamat and drummer Dwayne Broadnax at Jazz at Kitano on Sept. 25.

TIMESLedger

Queens saxophonist makes splash in the City

By Kevin Zimmerman

Cambria Heights musician Carl Bartlett Jr. brings his quartet to Kitano in Manhattan in early January.

For the past decade, Cambria Heights saxophonist Carl Bartlett Jr. has been playing his way to the top of the city’s jazz scene.

On Jan. 2, he and his band, The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet, officially arrive with a gig at Jazz at Kitano one of the top-five jazz venues in New York.

“It is completely amazing,” Bartlett said. “We’re starting off 2014 by having our name really out there.”

Although new to the Manhattan scene, Bartlett has been a fixture in venues throughout southeast Queens since before he could drink alcohol legally at them.

As a teenager growing up first in St. Albans and then Cambria Heights, Bartlett enjoyed an eclectic mix of musical interests including pop, R & B and even a little jazz, he said. But after his uncle made him listen to a Brecker Brothers’ album one Christmas, a little jazz turned into a whole lot.

“It wasn’t until that day that I heard what jazz is,” Bartlett said about Michael and Randy Brecker’s jazz fusion album. “It was an oxymoron. It was beautiful and nasty at the same time.”

Bartlett, who inherited some of his musical chops from his saxophone-playing father, has mastered both the alto and tenor sax. In high school he was named to the All-City Jazz Band during his junior and senior years, where he earned both the first and second chair spots.

He then won a scholarship in 2000 to attend the Manhattan School of Music, located in the shadow of Columbia University. But even during his years of study, he always found time to form jazz quartets and secure paying jobs, like the one at Brandy’s Jazz Lounge in St. Albans.

“That was one of my first gigs,” Bartlett said. “We had a regular spot once a week or once every two weeks for a few years. I was on cloud nine.”

But even in today’s world of downloadable tunes, musicians still need to record and release CDs to tout their work.

“You have to do a record,” Bartlett said. “Nobody knows you till you put out a record.”

For Bartlett, that happened in 2011 with his debut album, “Hopeful,” which quickly turned into a jazz media favorite.

Glowing reviews poured in from such industry giants as Jazziz magazine, All About Jazz and Jazz Inside magazine, which included this rave of the musician “showcasing the saxophonist’s deft and soulful—and sentimental—touch with the ballad form, with his band delivering just the right light and delicate accompaniment. Barlett draws long, sweet lines, as the tune winds down, teary-eyed.”

The CD, which includes six original songs and two new arrangements of classic pieces “It Could Happen to You,” and the theme from the “I Love Lucy” show.

Bartlett describes his band, which includes Yolchi Uzeki on piano, Dylan Shamat on bass and Dwayne Broadnax on drums, as utilizing a modern and progressive use of time in its creations.

“Not everything is 4/4 (four beats per measure),” Bartlett said. “We have some 2/5 chord changes like you would hear in swing.”

As he prepares to swing into the new year, he believes the rough patch he experienced this year — including the death of both his grandmother and grandfather — is behind him. He has big hopes for ’14, which just happens to be his age when he first started playing the sax.

“We have a bunch of live bookings, and I’m working on another album that should be out by the tail end of 2014,” he said. “I’m super happy. Jazz is what I always wanted to do.”

If you go

The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet

The Kitano: Jazz at KITANO

Where: 66 Park Ave., Manhattan

When: Thursday, Jan. 2, 8 pm and 10 pm

Cost: $15/cover and $15/food and drink minimum

Contact: (212) 885-7119

©2013 Community Newspaper Group

Lucid Culture

Saxophonist Carl Bartlett Jr. Delivers Sizzling Postbop with a Killer Band

What’s most immediately striking about Carl Bartlett Jr.‘s album Hopeful is the New York alto saxophonist’s fearsome chops. Quivering but stiletto-precise doublestops, bone-rattling trills and spirals from moody lows to stratospheric highs punctuate the solo piece that Bartlett opens the album with – ostentatious as it may be to show off like that, right off the bat, Bartlett pulls it off. The rest of the album features a brilliant band comprising pianist Sharp Radway, bassist Eric Lemon and drummer Emanuel Harrold, all players on the New York scene who deserves to be far better known. Bartlett’s tunesmithing falls into a solidly traditionalist postbop style, with expansive but tasteful solos and all kinds of electrifying interplay. This is one of those albums that manages to capture the band showing off the vigor and chemistry of a live set rather than a studio rush job. Bartlett and his quartet are at the Kitano on January 2 at 8 and 10 PM; cover is $15 plus a $15 minimum.

The first of the quartet numbers here, Fidgety Season, is a forcefully enigmatic jazz waltz, Bartlett and Radway trading up/down trajectories, the pianist’s artfully subtle permutations over Harrold’s suspenseful rumble giving way to a purposeful attack from the bandleader. The ballad Julie B benefits from a murkily resonant solo piano intro, Bartlett’s slowly unwinding lines handing off to a similarly soulful solo by Lemon; then Radway illuminates Bartlett’s balminess underneath.

Quantum Leaps (and Bounds), with guest Ron Jackson on guitar, takes a Steey Dan-ish theme for a brisk walk with a series of animated tradeoffs with the drums on the way out. Release is a bossa tune, Bartlett holding back resolutely from the resolution implied by the title until midway through, Radway latching onto the song’s inner bluesiness as it winds out with some clever rhythmic jousting. Seven Up works similar blues allusions over a syncopated swing – it’s Adderley Brothers gutbucket spun through funhouse mirror hardbop sophistication.

It Could Happen to You has Charles Bartlett guesting on trumpet and exchanging a series of energetically exploratory and eventually explosive, microtonally-charged solos with the sax over Harrold’s cool, cymbal-driven implied clave. They end the album with a lovingly lickety-split, strikingly straightforward take of the I Love Lucy theme, resisting the urge to indulge in buffoonery.

Queens Ledger/Brooklyn Star Newspaper Group

Climbing the progressive ladder of jazz

by Andrew Shilling Oct 31, 2013

It has been two years since Queens native and jazz artist Carl Bartlett, Jr. released Hopeful, his debut album that gained international recognition.

Since then, Bartlett has been featured on numerous jazz radio stations, magazines and compilations. Success is something he finds flattering, yet not surprising.

At 31, he is deeply set on his path of mastering the jazz saxophone through his progressive attitude and vision, while keeping to his family roots and neighborhood ties.

I had a chance to sit down with Bartlett at a coffee shop near his home in Jamaica to discuss his album, his tour and the music that he has chosen as his life’s path.

How did you get into playing the saxophone?

Well, my main instrument is the alto saxophone. I started playing that around the age of 11 and the person that inspired me to play was actually my dad, because he is a saxophonist. I said, “Wow, that instrument is really cool.”

Do you remember the first time you saw an alto sax?

It was at a young age. Probably around eight or nine or something like that. When I got into junior high school, in sixth grade, which is age 11 – and we could choose instruments at that age, not just the recorder – I said, “You know what? I’m doing saxophone. My dad was doing sax, so I’m doing sax.” At age 14 though, that was a special time in 1996, because that was the year that I started jazz. My uncle, who also plays trumpet – I come from a musical family – on Christmas Day he brought a record of a great group called the Brecker Brothers. Michael Brecker plays saxophone, tenor sax, and his brother Randy Brecker plays trumpet, and I heard that album on Christmas Day in 1996 and from that point on, I was 14 then, that changed my life forever. From that point on I’ve been playing jazz.

What’s the sound of the saxophone that got you?

There are not enough adjectives to describe it. The saxophone can be a lot of things. One of the ways that I characterize it, is kind of like unbridled beauty because it has such extremes. You know, from extreme lows to extreme highs with the harmonics of the saxophone. You can be very central with it, or you can be very rugged, it just runs the gamut in terms of emotions that you can portray. In my opinion, I feel that it’s the closest think that can reach the heart, even more than the human voice. Some people say it’s the closest thing to the human voice, but I think even more so, it does something even more than the human voice.

What school did you go to when first started pick up the sax?

I went to M.S. 74 in Bayside, and then from there I went to Cardozo High School in Bayside and from there I went to the great Manhattan School of Music. I graduated from there, and I got in on 90 percent scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor in Jazz Saxophone Performance in 2004. Going to Manhattan School of Music, how did that contribute to your knowledge of the instrument? It was an eye-opening experience to be with some of the best teachers, best players and the best atmosphere.

Did you think pursing a performance degree would be a risky way to get into the music business?

Yeah, but even though I had a playing degree, that’s what enabled me to teach at Martin Luther High School. I got a job teaching at the Lutheran Band Program. It wasn’t an education degree, but it was in some ways. It might be better because you’re actually playing the instrument and I knew exactly what it takes to relate to kids. When I was a teacher there, I had to know how to play multiple instruments, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trombone, trumpet, drums and piano.

Now you can record your own album.

Yeah! (laughs) Hopeful Part Two, Carl Does It All.

Who were some of the saxophonists in your past that inspired you?

Well my father and my uncle still have a phenomenal R &B show and dance band, and it’s actually named the Bartlet’s Contemporaries, so that’s my father and my uncle’s band. They used to play Tavern on the Green, Marina del Rey in the Bronx, they played for Oprah Winfrey, they played for Spike Lee. My dad and my uncle have done some great, great work. They were primarily R&B, Calypso and they did some Soul too.

What other inspiration did you have after getting your own foot in the jazz world?

I listened to the Brecker Brothers, Sonny Stitt on saxophone, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, the great, and Freddy Hubbard.

What about modern groups?

Well, there’s Walt Weiskopf, Jerry Bergonzi, James Carter and Joshua Redman.

How has jazz music changed since back in your dad’s day?

The genre has changed in a few ways. One way is we have so many sub-genres in jazz and one of the movements is called progressive jazz. And let me just preface this by saying all this modern stuff is rooted so deeply in the basics. You have to know the basic forms and how to play over the basic chord changes. One way that it has been modernized is definitely the progressive jazz, and generally that means songs and song forms in an odd meter time signature. Not just your regular 4/4 swing, and not just your regular 3/4 swing. People are doing things, and myself included, in all sorts of meters. Seven-four, 7/8, very odd metered stuff, very modern very progressive. So, let’s just put it like this, it’s excellent stuff, but it might not be the best for ballroom dancing.

What kind of jazz do you consider you’re playing right now?

For example, on my CD,Hopeful, its straight-ahead jazz progressive. We have odd meters on there, we mess with the time. Since it was my debut CD, what I wanted to do was - you know, I have all these ideas and I’m just a progressive thinking jazz musician, but I so respect the past will always be relevant because that’s where it stems from - have six of my own originals and because I was a new artist, I have two standards on there that people could recognize. One of the two standards on there is “It Can Happen To You,” a great jazz standard, and the other one which everybody knows is from the TV classic, I Love Lucy, and it’s the “I Love Lucy Theme Song.” I’ve always loved that song, my dad has always loved that song and show.

Who do you have on the album?

Well let's see, Sharp Radway on piano, Eric Lemon at the bass, Emanuel Harrold on the drums and my uncle Charles Bartlett on trumpet. He’s on track seven as a special guest. The great Ron Jackson, he plays guitar on track four, “Quantum Leaps and Bounds.”

Where did you meet all these guys?

Some of them I knew for a while. The gentleman I didn’t know, who I just met for the CD, was Emmanuel, the drummer. He’s originally from St. Louis, but he was living in New Jersey at the time. I met him through Eric for the first time. Eric I had known from the neighborhood, Sharp I had known from the neighborhood and Ron I know from church.

One thing I notice is that you write all your own songs as well.

Oh yeah, that’s the key. You have to write. It’s good to do arrangements on other songs, but you have to write your own material to show who you are and how you think.

How do you write?

Well I’ve always known theory and that plays a part in it. That’s not the end all be all, but it’s also just the things you hear in dreams, if you can remember dreams, and just stuff to get on another level and just tap into where people’s hearts are.

So while it has been a little over a year since releasing Hopeful, where are you now with the album and your tour?

Well, with the unfortunate passing of my grandparents this year, we had festivals planned for this year and we had great gigs planned for this year, I went through a hard time with it. They were my two last remaining grandparents. I just couldn’t do them. I was going through some pretty serious stuff for a young guy. Now, I’ve gotten over most of it and my official return was on Oct. 14th, at "For My Sweet", which was excellent. Next month, I got the call to co-headline a double bill with jazz master trombonist, Clifford Adams from Kool and the Gang.

Are you surprised by the amount of feedback you’ve gotten from your album?

To be honest, no. I know what the CD sounded like, and I had these big musicians and all these unbelievable things I’m hearing in my head and I’m writing it out. Once I heard it, I said this is going to take off.

Check out Carl Bartlett Jr.’s album and catch him in his next performance with Clifford Adams from Kool and the Gang on Nov. 27 at The Record Collector in Bordentown, New Jersey.

All About Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review

Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Hopeful (2013)

By Published: April 10, 2013

Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Hopeful

Alto saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr. was pushing his late twenties when he figured it was high time that he put out a CD. Hopeful resulted, and the Queens, New York native proved he was more than ready for the task. Opening boldly, with a five minute sax solo—the disc's title tune—the young artist announces his arrival. It is a pensive and reverent jazz exploration, and perhaps something of a prayer, and it sounds as if he may have been able to put out an entire solo album with success; and when you're talking saxophone, very few (only soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome comes immediately to mind) can pull that feat off.

Barlett cites influences such as saxophonists Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt, But "Fidgety Season," with its edgy shifts between waltz and 5/4 time, combined with the leader's tart, dry tone and sharp angles, is reminiscent of altoist Jackie McLean's approach.

Of the six originals presented here, none is more beautiful than "Julie B." With a gorgeous intro by pianist Sharp Radway, it is a heartfelt ode Bartlett's mother, showcasing the saxophonist's deft and soulful—and sentimental—touch with the ballad form, with his band delivering just the right light and delicate accompaniment. Barlett draws long, sweet lines, and seems to say "Never Let Me Go," as the tune winds down, teary-eyed.

Barlett closes the set out with a ten minute take on the standard, "It Could Happen to You." Joined by his uncle, Charles Bartlett, on trumpet—who plays with a bright, fiery sass that brings trumpeter Lee Morgan to mind. It's an up-tempo bop romp, with leader and band sounding particularly inspired.

Bartlett closes out this excellent debut with some fun, the familiar "I Love Lucy," the theme from one of the most popular situation comedies of all time. Beginning in a ballad mode, the band then shifts into full forward momentum, with a swing, for a rousing wrap to Hopeful.

Track Listing: Hopeful; Fidgety Season; Julie B.; Quantum Leaps (And Bounds); Release; Seven Up; It Could Happen To You; I Love Lucy.

Personnel: Carl Bartlett, Jr.: alto saxophone; Sharp Radway: piano; Eric Lemon: bass; Emanuel Harrold: drums; Charles Bartlett: trumpet (7); Ron Jackson: guitar (4).

Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz

JAZZIZ Magazine

JAZZIZ_Spring_2013_Edition_Great_HOPEFUL_CD_Review_Click_on_link.jpg

 

"Hopeful" Makes JAZZIZ Spring 2013 Compilation CD (Click on Link)!


All About Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review

Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Hopeful (2011)

By Published: March 14, 2013

Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Hopeful

Hope springs eternal from the horn of Carl Bartlett, Jr. The young alto saxophonist's debut album puts his positive spirit out front on a set of music that explores the quiet, the lively and everything in between. Bartlett, a Queens, New York native still living in the jazz capital of the universe, didn't instantly take to the saxophone, having first spent time exploring clarinet, trumpet and piano at an early age, but he found his true voice when he met the alto at the age of fourteen. Now, about a decade and a half later, he's putting that voice to good use.

On Hopeful, Bartlett brings out the sunny side in life and visits in on a variety of settings. He clearly marks himself as a risk-taker by starting things off with a solo saxophone showcase ("Hopeful"), but it pays off. This performances gives him an instant air of credibility that carries through the whole album. Bartlett never returns to this format and that's understandable; after these first five minutes, he's already made his point—and point of impact—and he need not return to the original scene of success. Instead, he journeys far and wide, exploring waltz-time worlds that occasionally detour into five ("Fidgety Season"), dropping into bossa nova territory ("Release"), and sprinting his way through a notable burner ("Quantum Leaps (And Bounds)"). He also expertly delivers odd-metered blues with a hard bop veneer ("Seven Up"), visits gentler realms ("Julie B.") and hits a classic or two along the way ("It Could Happen To You").

Ebullience is apparent every time Bartlett picks up his horn and this makes perfect sense. His bright toned alto is clearly a reflection of his positive spirit and it serves as the guiding force throughout. Occasionally, he carries too much of the load, as on "Julie B.," which loses focus when the spotlight shifts away from Bartlett and moves toward bassist Eric Lemon, but these issues pop up infrequently.

Bartlett is clearly the star of his own show, but a few other players deserve a mention. Pianist Sharp Radway wins the award for most supportive presence, as he continually lays down a comfortable foundation for Bartlett's explorations. Guitarist Ron Jackson, who sadly only appears on the driving "Quantum Leaps (And Bounds)," proves to be an excellent fit. He moves in lockstep with the leader, as they both fly through tricky lines, and delivers some attention-grabbing solo work.

In order to find success in music these days, artists have to be more than organizationally adept and technically capable; they also need to have the right attitude and outlook on life, which is ever apparent in the work of Carl Bartlett, Jr.

Track Listing: Hopeful; Fidgety Season; Julie B.; Quantum Leaps (And Bounds); Release; Seven Up; It Could Happen To You; I Love Lucy.

Personnel: Carl Bartlett, Jr.: alto saxophone; Sharp Radway: piano; Eric Lemon: bass; Emanuel Harrold: drums; Charles Bartlett: trumpet (7); Ron Jackson: guitar (4).

Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz

Liquid Air Productions

A Jazzy nite at the Garage!

Last night I was able to experience The Carl Bartlett Jr. Trio at the Garage Restaurant & Cafe in Greenwich Village; the show was soulful.

Carl Bartlett Jr. was silky smooth on his sax, at times putting me in a jazzaphonic trance. Or was that the Pinot Noir? Ha Ha! Sharp Radway's fingers were dancing across the piano keys in perfect sync with each other, producing crisp and precise notes. Eric Lemon was strumming harmonic low tones on his bounteous bass. Together they blended superbly, spawning some serious need to hear jazz. Guitarist Koji Yoneyama sat in and was very impressive. His burnish tickling of his strings seamlessly fused with the band, and brought a welcomed element the set.     

The ambiance, decor, and atmosphere at the Garage was felicitous; a nice place to chill. The food was savory as well. I had the pan seared Mahi Mahi drizzled with teriyaki glaze; it accompanied gently seasoned rice.... Scrumptious! 

All in all it was a a very good night! What more can you ask for? Cool jazz, and good food and drink. Make it your business to check out these passionate cats perform. And if you are in the Village pop into the Garage for a bit to eat. I am sure they will have good music playing.

Also to mention brother Carl has his debut CD titled HOPEFUL circulating the stratosphere that is getting rave reviews... So stop fronting and get it!

The Aquarian Weekly

Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Next-Gen Bop

—by , November 28, 2012

Alto-saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr. strides confidently onto New York’s modern jazz scene, band in tow, with debut album Hopeful. Self-identifying his style as “straight-ahead/progressive,” the tracks sound like the free-spirit, lively bounce, and inhuman virtuosity of bebop being filtered through a tireless study of the genre’s evolution, ultimately hunting for something fresh, uplifting, and deliciously moody. Standout “Quantum Leaps And Bounds” is a frenetic tradeoff of sax and guitar solos, speed-freaking without feeling soulless and going down a little like Monk (fittingly, they’ve been busting out “Straight, No Chaser” at shows). Jazz heads can see what Carl’s about on Nov. 30 at The Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ, where he’ll be appearing with his quartet. Tickets are $12, or you can shell out $15 at the door.

"JAZZ INSIDE" Magazine (Click link below to read full article)

STELLAR_CD_Review_of_HOPEFUL_Featured_in_Jazz_Inside_Magazine.jpg

Audiophile Audition/audaud.com

Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet – Hopeful – self

Carl Bartlett, Jr.'s CD makes jazz lovers realize we are in good hands.

Published on September 25, 2012

Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet – Hopeful – self

Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet – Hopeful, self, 2011, 57:55 ****:

(Carl Bartlett, Jr, alto saxophone; Sharp Radway, piano; Eric Lemon, bass; Emanuel Harrold, drums; Charles Bartlett, trumpet (track 7); Ron Jackson, guitar (track 4)).

This is the debut CD by the then 28-year-old Mr. Bartlett.  He sees himself in the straight-ahead, progressive camp.  That’s a very apt description for this disc of six originals and two very fine interpretations of standards.  Evident throughout are the contributions and impact of growing up in a musical family (his uncle and father have led a long running show and dance band with the young  Bartlett both observing their professionalism and occasionally seeing the audience from the stage when asked to join in).  He earned a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, teaches, and is partway through a postgraduate music program.  The sessions for “Hopeful” were held in the summer of 2010 before being released, meeting the usual high sonic standards offered by the jazz idiom.

Interestingly, things start off with a 4:57 unaccompanied alto sax solo.  Almost like a warmup for an audition.  Bartlett demonstrates his command, ideas and love for the alto through telling his story as just a musician and a horn. A ballsy but very admirable statement which nicely sets the stage for the introduction of the ensemble.

Bartlett wrote “Fidgety Season” as a tribute to his middle school students.  It’s his interpretation of the June month when the kids get jittery with the anticipation of summer.  It starts in 5/4 time before setting a jazz waltz feel prior to fidgeting back to 5/4 for Emanuel Harrod’s drum solo before slowing back for the ending.

Track three is a ballad dedicated to Barlett’s mother.  The exquisite and moving alto and group performance is highlighted by a sensitive solo by bassist Lemon. “Quantum Leaps(And Bounds)” is my favorite.  This is a fast hard charging workout adding the explorational guitar of Ron Jackson to the quartet.  The unison playing of alto and guitar is fantastic and creative.  But a real treat is the two men’s solos and trades recalling the legendary duels of Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons and others. This might be a good time to identify Bartlett’s declared influences.  He was spurred toward jazz in his early teens by hearing his father’s record of the Brecker Brothers “New York City”.  He also cites Stitt, Charlie Parker and Joshua Redman.  I even hear some Dolphyisms now and then.  Very imaginative writing and superlative playing abounds everywhere on this monster track which reveals cunning compositional skills.

“Seven Up” exemplifies what Bartlett means by progressive mainstream and is the last of his six original compositions.  It’s a blues number, but in 7/4.  It presents a fine piano solo, the usual well-toned Bartlett solo, and a nice drum spot by Harrold to supplement his tasteful support evident throughout the album.  This track also provides a super example of how well this disc was recorded for an independent project.

“Release” is Carl’s bossa nova.  It’s pleasantly pleasing, revealing the quartet as an optimally running engine with all brilliantly contributing to  the whole. “It Could Happen To You” introduces on trumpet and celebrates the impact Bartlett’s uncle, Charles Bartlett, had on his life.  We get lengthy trumpet and sax solos, followed by a bass solo with gentle comping by pianist Radway.  Towards the end there’s some initial gentle trading by the Bartletts before things pick up furiously until the sound becomes monstrously busy – another example of envelope pushing.

The beloved “I Love Lucy” is the final tune.  The theme is stated, then the tempo is briefly picked up before being slowed down for the piano solo.  It then speeds up for interesting sax/drums trades including just clever snippets of the melody.  A thoughtfully-arranged ending closes out the disc.

Going back to the analogy of this debut being like an audition.  If so, Carl Bartlett, Jr totally aced it.  This album is the type of introduction that really doesn’t happen that often.  When it does, it makes jazz lovers realize we are in good hands.  Bartlett is talented enough to receive the type of label support given to someone like James Carter for his initial release.  Even without it, the composing, arrangements, playing and production values are top-drawer.  Congrats, guys!

TrackList:  Hopeful; Fidgety-Season; Julie B.; Quantum Leaps(And Bounds); Release; Seven Up; It Could Happen To You; I Love Lucy.

—Birney K. Brown

TripAdvisor

 

My husband and I were in New York for the Labor Day weekend. We were telling a limo/taxi driver that we wanted to go to a jazz club and he told us about the Garage. We are SO GLAD he told us about it! We had such an amazing night there. It was the highlight of our weekend. We already had dinner so we went for drinks and appetizers. It was late, around 11pm on a Saturday night. Before we walked through the doors we could hear the faint sounds of jazz that were a welcoming beacon to come in! I can't say enough about the Carl Bartlett, Jr Quartet!! They put on an OUTSTANDING show and they were so sweet to play my husband's and my wedding song, "The Way You Look Tonight." They brought us back in time to the era of Jazz and it was such an amazing experience. It makes me sigh with happiness just thinking about it. The wait staff was excellent too! Our waitress was very attentive and had a genuine kind, earnest attitude that is rare to find in any restaurant. Our appetizers were very unique and very delicious. It was an all-around excellent visit. We had such a wonderful memorable experience that we cannot wait to go back the next time we're in New York.

TIMESLedger

St. Albans native may be among last to play Lenox

The Carl Bartlett Jr. Quartet performed at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem on Friday, Aug. 24. Bartlett, on saxophone, plays at the historic jazz lounge a few times a year, though it has been struggling to stay open. Photo by Diana R. Cabral

Along a commercial strip on Lenox Avenue in Harlem sits a historic New York jazz home, Lenox Lounge — its Art Deco façade designed by Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design, stands out among the many other drab businesses on this wide street.

Inside you’re taken back in time to the heyday of the jazz era. The bar looks like it has not changed since at least the 1950s or ’60s save for the giant HDTV’s peering down from the walls.

It’s here — in the legendary Zebra Room — where St. Albans native Carl Bartlett Jr. and his quartet performed Friday evening, gracing the tiled floor once occupied by music legends Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis.

The aptly named room, whose walls are covered in black and white zebra wallpaper with framed prints of greats like Vaughan, Davis and Monk, is an intimate backroom behind the Lenox Lounge’s bar.

The quartet started their set with a Monk recording: smooth, fluid with hints of drum beats, piano and notes on the upright bass that took center stage.

The Carl Bartlett Jr. Quartet plays Lenox Lounge four times a year and Bartlett, now living in Cambria Heights, described his music as straight-ahead jazz but progressive.

Growing up in St. Albans, the Manhattan School of Music alum began taking piano lessons at age 7, then moved on to the clarinet while in elementary school. In his teens and in college he started playing jazz and picked up the saxophone. Bartlett started his quartet while in college in the early 2000s and graduated with a bachelor of music in jazz performance in 2004.

Though the historic lounge — once a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance — has regular jazz performers like Bartlett and a steady local clientele, it is in danger of shutting its doors.

“We are doing whatever possible to stay open,” said Toni Alexis, a Lenox Lounge manager.

Though she would not go into detail, she said they are exploring different ideas, including landmarking the building. The owner, Alvin Reed, has sought legal counsel and has reached out to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee. Reed, who bought the lounge in the 1980s, is committed to keeping it a vibrant place for jazz in Harlem.

Knowing the lounge’s difficult position, Bartlett was adamant about the Lenox Lounge’s place in the jazz scene.

“The jazz community cannot afford to lose a historic place like this, where all of the greats have come through,” he said. “For this to close would be a huge blow to the New York jazz scene.”

Still, some of the management of the lounge maintained their optimism.

“It doesn’t look as bleak. This neighborhood is on an upswing,” said Malaika Davis, another lounge manager.

Opening its doors in 1939, Lenox Lounge whose regular patrons included a who’s who’s of important African-American figures like James Baldwin and Malcolm X, has weathered both the decline of the area and its recent upturn. Currently, the lounge is on a month-to-month lease with the landlord.

“We will be open in September,” assured Davis.

If You Go

Lenox Lounge

288 Lenox Ave.

Harlem

(212) 427-0253

lenoxlounge.com

Linked In

 

"Each year the CoffeeTalk Jazz Radio Family seeks out an extraordinary, talented musician who stands head and shoulders above others. We look for an individual who has served as a pioneer within his or her profession. In addition, this artist has effectively used their education, skills, and talents to better their community at large.

We have looked at hundreds of U-tube videos and listened to hundreds of Mp3 tracks this year, and it’s only March 2012. We hope we’d find the person who we felt exemplified the CoffeeTalk Jazz mission and “Spirit of Excellence.” But in our quest we didn’t find anyone, until now! I’m speaking of "Alto Saxophonist/Composer, Recording Artist and Educator” Mr. Carl Bartlett, Jr.


Carl’s titan saxophone playing style is incredible. His fluent cool tone, yet relaxed style are at times complex and yet he glides over each chord change gracefully. Carl has created a cool 21st century jazz style, reminiscent of many of the late jazz greats. He has the profound and powerful heritage of greats like, Edward "Sonny" Stitt, Charlie Parker, Joshua Redman, and John Coltrane and an exhaustible list of other significant influences.


Carl’s modern creative progressive jazz sound is evident and a testament to his dedication, hard work, and accomplishments and is one of many reasons why Carl Bartlett, Jr. is a rising star. His debut CD, “Hopeful”, expresses the spontaneity of his spirit within. Carl’s powerful melodies draw on influences and lessons he learned from his father Carl Bartlett, Sr. and his uncle Charles Bartlett, Jr., the “Bartlett’s Contemporaries” musicians in their own right.


Carl has developed a signature sound creating rich arrangements with beautiful rhythms. His supporting band mates on “Hopeful” feature a stellar lineup, Eric Lemon on bass, Sharp Radway on piano, Emanuel Harrold on drums, Charles Bartlett, Jr. on trumpet, and Ron Jackson on guitar. His CD debut, “Hopeful”, has received rave reviews from many of my musical colleagues. “Hopeful” debuted to a national and international radio audience March 27th 2012 on Coffee Talk Jazz Radio Los Angeles.


I've met and built amazing friendships with many of the best musicians in the world, and I consider Carl Bartlett, Jr. among the greats. His work ethic, education, and genuine gracious spirit keep him grounded, and that will result in many open doors of opportunity. We look forward to his sophomore recording, and are excited about getting a second helping on this great music. “Hopeful” is an appetizer of great music to come.


I am pleased to support Carl Bartlett, Jr. and I highly recommend him without reservation.


Ms Bridgette Y. Lewis
Executive Producer CoffeeTalk Jazz Radio/Television” April 21, 2012

Carl Bartlett, Jr. Interview on NorthCountryPublicRadio (NCPR) w/ Host Joel Hurd, on His Jazz Program, "The Bridge"!

NiteLifeExchange.com

                                                                                                                                                    By Lucy Galliher

On one of the coldest nights of the year (Jan. 21, 2011), alto saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr. brought a crowd to fill the spacious Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd St. in Manhattan. He was celebrating his debut CD, entitled Hopeful. With him were the rhythm section of Sharp Radway on piano, Eric Lemon on bass and Emanuel Harrold on drums. Special guests were guitarist Ron Jackson and trumpeter Charles Bartlett, Carl’s uncle.

Carl Bartlett, Jr. is a very classy young man. Dressed in a pin-striped suit and tie, he greeted audience members as they came in, and spoke easily onstage. He entertained the audience with his mostly original, modern jazz music.

The opener, one of Carl’s originals, “Fidgety Season,” was played in an upbeat swing, and right away I could sense Carl’s seriousness about his artform. He has great intonation on the alto, and has mastered a variety of styles. Pianist Radway also has great chops, and kept the mood bright with tremolos and lots of movement.

“Julie B” was a ballad named after Carl’s mother. The texture of this piece was based on modern jazz, but not so far outside the tradition that made it unpleasant listening. “Release” was a thoughtful and intelligent bossa-nova. Both of these original pieces were well-played. But the highlight of the evening was the featured special guest musicians. Carl brought up Ron Jackson to play guitar on “Quantum Leaps (and Bounds).” It was a wild and fast melody that they played in unison. Ron jumped right into a solo, playing tasteful phrases all the way up the neck of his guitar. He received shouts from the crowd, and then the two lead instruments traded phrases in an exciting “battle of the axes.” Someone yelled out “That was crazy!” and everyone laughed.

Trumpeter Charles Bartlett came onstage for the Jimmy Van Heusen standard, “It Could Happen to You.” An introduction on solo trumpet changed the mood to one of relaxed swing, and one could sense the rapport between uncle and nephew as they weaved a tapestry of sound throughout the song.

The remainder of the set consisted of: “Seven-Up,” a natural-sounding blues in an unusual meter, 7/4; “I Love Lucy,” a feature for the talented drummer Harrold; and towards the end of the evening a Monk tune was included, “Straight, No Chaser,” bringing everyone back to the stage. Altogether, the evening was a rousing success.

TimesLedger

Optimistic note

 

Carl Bartlett, Jr. was 14 years old when he discovered jazz.

Now, 14 years later, people are about to discover the jazz alto saxophonist with the Jan. 21 release of his debut CD, “Hopeful.”

The 28-year-old Cambria Heights resident vividly recalls Christmas Day 1996, when the then-14-year-old Bartlett’s uncle played the Brecker Brothers album, “New York City.”

“I’ll never forget that day. [The music] was unbridled beauty. You could tell that it was so advanced and complex yet it was cathartic and bold,” Bartlett said. “He put that on for me. The next day, Dec. 26, I picked up my alto sax. That lit my fire.”

Although he was in his teen years when he began to appreciate jazz, Bartlett comes from a musical family. His father, Carl Bartlett, Sr., and his uncle have been playing R&B, Latin music and jazz since the 1960s.

“They would take me to their gigs at a young age,” Bartlett said. “I always had [music] in my genes.”

In his first year at Cardozo HS in Bayside, he joined a band called Harmony and played second alto sax for Cardozo’s concert band.

At 16, Bartlett joined his father and uncle in a band called The Bartlett Contemporaries; before he joined, the band had played for Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee and Bill Cosby.

He received his first alto saxophone as a graduation present in 2000.

Bartlett was in the all-city jazz band his senior year and received a 90 percent scholarship to the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, which he graduated from in 2004.

Bartlett has finished one year of a two-year music program at Queens College, which he said he took time off to complete because he wanted to “experience life” and start working.

From 2006 to 2009, Bartlett taught music at Martin Luther HS in Maspeth and was the head instructor of the school’s band program.

Bartlett said he named his debut CD “Hopeful” because it describes his spirit.

“It’s a very exciting time,” he said. “It just embodies my thoughts about my life and my career. There are always obstacles and you have to remain hopeful.”

Bartlett, special guest guitarist Ron Jackson and his uncle Charles, who plays trumpet on one of the CD’s songs, rehearsed for a year before recording the album June 8.

Of the eight songs, the first six are originals by Bartlett, followed by two standards – Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke’s “It Could Happen to You” and “I Love Lucy” by Eliot Daniel.

“I really anticipate this CD will be a success,” said Bartlett, who has opened for Wynton Marsalis and played with Andy Montanez’s Latin salsa orchestra.

While Bartlett has spent half his life immersed in jazz, he said he is still trying to reach a higher level of proficiency.

“You’re always learning,” he said. “Even though I’m a seasoned professional, I’m always learning.”

The CD launch party is scheduled for Jan. 21 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe in Manhattan.

Bartlett said he also expects “Hopeful” to be available through CDBaby.com, Amazon.com and iTunes.

For tickets to the launch party, call 212-695-6909.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

©2011 Community Newspaper Group

ReviewYou.com

Carl Bartlett, Jr. “Hopeful”

 

Carl Bartlett Jr.’s Hopeful is a treat for anyone who enjoys the smoke-filled, traditional, and contemporary style of Jazz.  Although the first six tracks on Hopeful are original works, they resonate with the eloquence and spirit of John Coltrane.  With the assistance of his band, including Sharp Radway on piano, Eric Lemon on bass, Emanuel Harrold on drums, Charles Bartlett on trumpet, and Ron Jackson on guitar, Bartlett, Jr. and crew deliver a well-balanced blueprint for success.

The first and arguably finest track of the group, “Hopeful, touts Carl’s exuberant yet original alto saxophone play.  Reminiscent of a backdrop to a film-noir soundtrack, “Hopeful” displays the strength and confidence of an accomplished artist.  The song is complete, as a tour-de-force alto saxophone solo highlights Carl’s skilled range and sensitivity in his approach to Jazz. Next, “Fidgety Season” begins as an upbeat and well-orchestrated track complete with an apt piano introduction that embraces the depth of Carl’s jazz ensemble. “Fidgety Season” showcases a traditional jazz tune filled with lively piano and drum solos culminated by Carl’s vibrant alto leads throughout.

Another masterwork created by Bartlett, Jr. and Co. is “Julie B,” which gracefully intones the deep emotional moods of the eight song collaboration. “Julie B” shines through as an extended but well-paced melody of the set on which the magnificence continues as the jazz ensemble maintains its intensity and keen organization of tracks. The calm, serene atmosphere highlights Eric Lemon’s crafty bass talents, allowing the song to shine while accentuating Carl’s alto virtuoso.  The next track, “Quantum Leaps and Bounds,” opens like a mood-filled emotional piece but quickly cascades and leaps into an upbeat montage of piano, bass, drum, and Ron Jackson’s dazzling guitar lead.  With hints of George Benson and Wes Montgomery, it offers the set an acoustic flavor drenched in rich tone, balance, and artistic creativity.  The intense guitar resonance is accompanied halfway by Carl’s powerful saxophone flair, culminating into a fusion of elegance and grace.

“Release” continues the second half of the set as a mellow bass-filled song of beauty.  Carl’s lead again is reminiscent of Coltrane’s strength in tone and character.  “Seven Up” provides a skillful performance featuring Carl’s cheerful saxophone intro, Sharp Radway’s well-paced piano lead, and Emanuel Harrold’s enticing drum solos.  The sharp-edged collaboration here is undoubtedly the most optimistic tune of the entire set. The song also has the elegance the 1950’s and 1960’s era where jazz music and ballrooms would swing with dancing charm.  “It Could Happen to You” captures Charles Bartlett’s brilliance on trumpet as the song sways in both style and poise throughout. The final track of the group, “I Love Lucy,” starts like a darkly mesmerizing jazz piece that gradually leaps into the fervent theme song of the show many have come to love.  “I Love Lucy” brings Carl Bartlett, Jr.’s group full circle as the tune picks up tempo and maintains its stylishness saxophone riffs that only Carl can provide, and is a befitting final piece to an excellent portrait of Carl Bartlett, Jr. and his group of gifted jazz performers.

Carl Bartlett Jr.’s Hopeful brings together a very smooth mix of traditional, contemporary, and enthusiastic jazz.  The 8-track set never fails in its delivery of skillfully composed songs that represent today’s contemporary jazz scene while not forgetting the past. Carl Bartlett, Jr. and his band have given radio and home listeners another reason to enjoy the pure pleasures of jazz.

Review by Gary Brown
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

Sign Up For "Carl's Music Newsletter!"

Upcoming Shows

  • December 14, 2017
    JAZZ at KITANO ,  New York, NY
     

Give a Listen! Note: New tunes to be added soon!

Connect With Me On Facebook!