Jazz Saxophonist Comes to Westchester With Plenty of ‘Promise!’
July 13, 2018 By Martin Wilbur
Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr., who has been touring since December to promote his latest CD, will perform this Saturday night at the BeanRunner Café in Peekskill.
Carl Bartlett, Jr. had the proper exposure and pedigree to become an accomplished jazz musician. From the time he was eight or nine years old, he would tag along with his father and his uncle on their gigs around the New York area.
Their group was a 10-piece R&B band, which performed an eclectic mix of rhythm and blues, Latin and funk music along with a bit of jazz.
“I saw this wonderful band live at a young age so that inspired me, and my dad, he was a saxophonist, that also inspired me,” Bartlett said. “And my uncle was a trumpeter. So I really just came from a musical family.”
But it was Christmas Day 1996 when Bartlett’s life was changed forever. His uncle gave the then 14-year-old a record called “Dreams” from the great tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. The next day, Bartlett, exhilarated by that recording, picked up his alto saxophone and would play every chance he had. More than 20 years later, he’s hardly put it down.
Today, Bartlett is in the midst of a nearly yearlong tour promoting his second career album “Promise!” consisting of eight of his original modern jazz compositions. He has been touring up and down the East Coast since the CD’s release last December. Two of the songs feature his uncle, Charles Bartlett, on trumpet.
This Saturday night, he will bring his quartet to the BeanRunner Café in downtown Peekskill. If you love jazz, this is the place to be. Whether listening to the Carl Bartlett Quartet live or picking up his CD, expect to hear a blend of traditional jazz, mixed with some mellow and a bit of the abstract.
“I try to combine all of that within a CD, not just have completely abstract, not have it be completely straight, because our sound is already a very modern sound,” said Bartlett, the first-place winner for jazz in the 2015-16 International Songwriting Competition. “I just try to work in all of that. Even though I have all originals, I try to do melodic things and a tinge of abstract because these are the things that I feel.”
In addition to selections from “Promise!” the audience will also be treated to a few classic jazz standards with Bartlett leading the way. He will be joined by drummer Tony Jefferson, a Peekskill native, Steve Wood on bass and Julius Chen on piano.
During the past six months, Bartlett has been overwhelmed by the reaction has been getting from “Promise!” Most impressively, audiences at his live shows have been calling out for “High Pizzazz,” one of the cuts on the album.
“That’s when an artist’s original work can stand out to an audience and I’m really happy about that,” Bartlett said.
For Bartlett, who counts Sonny Stitt, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis as his main influences, the second CD comes six years after his original release “Hopeful,” which also contained eight songs, including six originals.
The Queens native graduated from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Music in jazz performance. From the time he was in college, Bartlett has been a regular performer on the New York music scene after he formed his own jazz band at 19.
In 2006, two years after he finished college, Bartlett became the head music instructor at the Martin Luther School in Maspeth, Queens. He still gives private lessons to students on the alto and tenor saxophones and the bass clarinet.
Bartlett said he’s looking forward to his engagement Saturday night at the BeanRunner, the type of venue that bubbles with energy and excitement.
“I’m playing now more than ever and it’s really fantastic,” he said. “I set out to do it and I’m doing it and continue to look for even greater opportunities.”
Saturday’s show is scheduled for 8 p.m. The BeanRunner Café is located at 201 S. Division St. in Peekskill. Admission is $15. Reservations are recommended. For more information and reservations, call 914-737-1701 or visit www.beanrunnercafe.com. Reservations should be made at least 48 hours in advance. - Martin Wilbur
Queens Jazz Man Performs In Flushing
June 21, 2018 BY JON CRONIN
The Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet, a Queens-based jazz ensemble, will help Flushing Library celebrate its 20th anniversary on June 30. “We’re honored to have received the call for this event,” said Bartlett who formed the band seven years ago.“They asked us to perform a modern jazz set that’s right up our alley.”
The performance will also include music from the quartet’s new album Promise and classic jazz standards.
Bartlett, 35, grew up in St. Albans in a household that treasured music, especially jazz. His uncle and father have their own band, The Bartlett Contemporaries, which has been playing R&B, Latin, some pop and jazz for 50 years.
“I sang with them at 9 and cut my teeth on their gigs,” he said.
Bartlett said he first fell in love with jazz and the saxophone at age 14 when his uncle brought a jazz album to Christmas dinner. The album was by a group that featured saxophonist Michael Brecker.
“He was my initial influence to go the jazz route with the saxophone,” Bartlett said. “When I heard it, I thought, ‘This is what I need to do.’”
Bartlett went on to the Manhattan School of Music after getting a scholarship that paid for 90 percent of his tuition. Today, he lives in Cambria Heights and plays with his band and teaches.
“I’ve been with my band since 2011,” he said. “I still play with a lot of the guys who played with me on my debut album in 2011.”
Asked if growing up in Queens influenced his music, he said, “That’s not even a question.”
“Queens is so rich with jazz history,” he said. “So many of the jazz greats lived and played here, especially St. Albans.”
He cited Count Basie, Eddie Lockjaw, Milt Hinton and saxophonist Illinois Jacquet among his Queens influences.
Bartlett is also the first-place U.S. winner and second in the prestigious 2015-2016 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) Jazz Category for his song “Quantum Leaps (And Bounds).”
JazzEd Magazine wrote, “He has since emerged as one of the leading lights in the post bop/straight ahead/contemporary jazz world as both a player and composer.”
“A tone that only the greats have the ability to attain” wrote All About Jazz, calling his winning song at the ISC a “profound sonic nature of Bartlett, Jr.’s cathartic, rich and round alto sax sound.” - Jon Cronin
— Queens Tribune
“ Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Promise! By DON PHIPPS April 6, 2018 Winner of the USA 2015-16 International Songwriting Competition Jazz Category, Carl Bartlett Jr. showcases his skills on PROMISE!. The album's warm, vivacious compositions offer plenty of cheer and good feelings. The result is guaranteed to bring a Billy Higgins smile to your face. Bartlett's alto sax playing is equally sunny. Like Bobby Watson or Donald Harrison, he offers strong and graceful phrases that slip and slide through the songs in clever and fascinating ways. Not to be outdone, Bartlett's bandmates reinforce the sweet, friendly, jovial ambience of the album with exceptional playing. There are no weak links in this chain. Every member cooks with gas. The album opens with the title cut, "PROMISE!" Bartlett's solo quickly evolves from a sharp intro into straight-ahead bop and engaging motifs. It's as if his music were floating in the clouds. Listen to the tonguing of the reed and the rapid-fire sax notes—always controlled and centered on the melody. Yoichi Uzeki contributes with a boisterous piano solo of his own, and Sylvia Cuenca adds to the mix with some top-notch drumming. More serious in nature, "Dialed In (Like a Laser)" begins with a flutter on the reed—followed by a sax improvisation. The tune gives Uzeki a chance to stretch, and his solo exhibits lots of ups and downs, strikes and sprawls. Cuenca adds her rhythmic skills and uses the entire trap set to shift the music in meter and syncopation. Of all the joyful tunes on the album, "The Bartlett Family" may be the most jubilant. This one highlights the trumpet playing of Bartlett's uncle, Charlie Bartlett. Together, the Bartletts and Uzeki provide sharp bop playing while the bass and drums settle in behind the magic. With a bluesy solo, Uzeki begins the ballad, "As the Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes." What follows is Bartlett's solo, conjuring city lights emerging on a late afternoon in setting sun, thoughts of a pleasant stroll along a beautiful river that opens to the ocean. The atmosphere is echoed in Marcus McLaurine's bass playing over Cuenca's brushwork. The graceful theme of "Ethereal Heartbeat," swoops forward as if flying through the sky. McLaurine's poetic and intense solo leads into a Uzeki solo that delights and sparkles. The closing number, "It's Been So Grand" features Bartlett and his uncle. The theme is never forceful; the music just flows. Uzeki follows the duo with a blues modal solo. His fingers dance and cascade on the piano until Bartlett takes over with a bubbly hot sax solo. Drummer Cuenca gets into the action again with some choice statements that go back and forth with the ensemble. PROMISE! is open, heartfelt, and sincere. Nothing is hidden. Everything is exposed. For those who relish walks in the sun, the fragrance of flowers, fresh air, and the warmth of family and friends, this album is for you. Recommended. Track Listing: PROMISE!; High Pizzazz; Dialed In (Like A Laser); As The Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes; The Bartlett Family; Ethereal Heartbeats; Fidgety Season; It's Been So Grand. Personnel: Carl Bartlett, Jr.: alto saxophone; Yoichi Uzeki: piano; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Sylvia Cuenca: drums; Charles Bartlett: trumpet Title: Promise! | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced” - Don Phipps
“ CARL BARTLETT JR. - Promise! Self Release (www.carlbartlettjr.com) Carl Bartlett Jr. (alto saxophone); Yoichi Uzeki (piano); Marcus McLaurine (bass); Sylvia Cuenca (drums); Charles Bartlett (trumpet on 2 tracks) Recorded February 1& 6, 2017 This is an immensely enjoyable set from Bartlett Jr, and a New Yorker playing straight ahead jazz out of the bebop and hard bop school of thought he is speaking in his native tongue. He does this to an extremely high standard, and with a fluency of execution and a steady flow of satisfyingly melodic and rhythmically astute solos that ensure that the album is a joy from start to finish. Taking up the alto saxophone at age fourteen and encouraged by his saxophonist father and his uncle, Charles Bartlett who is heard on two tracks, he was off to a good grounding. Studying at college with Dick Oatts, Steve Slagle and Antonio Hart further enhanced his education, along with gigging on a regular basis. This combination of education, both on and off the stand, and more formal study has left the thirty five year old altoist with an assured and confident tone, that still retains the swagger of youth coupled with his burgeoning experience, yet does not slavishly copy his idols but builds on the New York sound and legacy that he is so proud to be a part of. With eight original compositions from Bartlett, he is (like many), not distancing himself from the use of more familiar bebop themes or standards but finding the right framework in which to deliver his own improvisations in a fresh and invigorating way. This he does by writing concise and lithe melodies that are both memorable and fine vehicles for the quartet/quintet to explore harmonically and rhythmically. Anxious not to throw caution to the wind on every track, he modulates the programme nicely with a good variety of tempos and feel. The more relaxed tempo is superbly handled on the sensuous 'AsThe Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes' with a fine introduction from pianist, Yoichi Uzeki, who incidentally is excellent throughout. Another ingenious way of keeping things fresh is with the introduction of another horn in none other than the altoist's uncle, Charles Bartlett on trumpet on a swinging 'The Bartlett Family' and bebop/post bop rooted 'It's Been So Grand'. The older man immediately brings a calmness and assurance to bear on the young quartet, ably demonstrating that tension and excitement generated can be in his carefully crafted solos that refuse to be hurried. The CD liner notes make much of the exploration by the quartet of shifting metres, but for the majority of listeners this technical information will be of little consequence as they bask in the sheer exuberance of the playing on this fine release. Reviewed by Nick Lea” - Nick Lea
“ Interview with Carl Bartlett, Jr.: Jazz is a very personal, and expressive musical language: - 06/02/2018 - in INTERVIEWS, VIDEOS Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr. An interview by email in writing. JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music? Carl Bartlett, Jr.: – I grew up in Queens, NY. First, in St. Albans, Queens (which has an amazingly rich Jazz lineage), and later in Cambria Heights, Queens, that’s my stomping ground. I first became interested in music probably at around age seven. My Mom and Dad got me piano lessons at a young age from a wonderful teacher named David Watley. I believe the initial catalyst was my Dad (Carl Bartlett, Sr.) and his Brother’s (my Uncle, Charles Bartlett) renowned Show and Dance band, named The Bartlett Contemporaries (that started in the 1960’s and is going strong today)! They used to take me to many of their gigs, when I was a young boy, and I’d watch them in action. When I reached a certain age and proficiency in music, they let me perform on stage with them. That truly inspired me! JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the saxophone? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument? CB.Jr: – My Dad is who inspired me to pick up the saxophone, because he played it very well. Following that, on Christmas Day of 1996 (when I was fourteen years old), my Uncle brought a recording over of The Brecker Brothers, and I heard saxophonist Michael Brecker for the first time. It was at that exact moment that I seriously took to Jazz! My Uncle Charles, although he is a fabulous trumpeter, helped me progress on saxophone as he worked with me immensely on developing my ear, and my overall saxophone playing (reading, and improvisation). Exceptional sax teachers in college included Dick Oatts, Steve Slagle, and Antonio Hart. JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound? CB.Jr: – Speaking purely sonically, I think of it as tone, instead of sound. The word tone specifically brings about more of an emphasis on high quality, rather than simply something that has sound. I can’t quantify how much tone means to me, and sometimes I speak rather esoterically (as opposed to musical terms) as I say that I want my tone to encapsulate what life is about, ultimately leading to freedom and promise. My alto sax tone has evolved and has become thicker through the years, although I’ve always had a thicker than normal tone (especially in the mid to low registers), this is something that is innate. My embouchure has also evolved as now I take less of the mouthpiece in my mouth than I used to (which gives the sax a less constricted sound). One thing, however, that has remained constant throughout the evolution, is that I’ve always had a vivid and unshakeable idea in my mind as to how I want my tone to ultimately sound. Then from there, I keep pushing for more. Tone is my guiding light! JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm? CB.Jr: – These days, things are so busy musically that there is not nearly as much time to practice as I would like. But when I do get practice time in, I make it count. Specifically pertaining to rhythm, I practice with and without the sax. Without the sax, I simply count. Sound simple? What I mean is that I expand my mind and ability by counting up to longer measures, let’s say 7/8, 11/4, 15/8, and even past 20 beats per measure, and I put songs in those meters. It’s a whole other world when you add more space to the time, and I love the exploration of a new realm! The real key is to make this sound musical and feel good. On the sax, rhythmically, I practice what I just described, but more importantly I practice trying to be in the groove, and really have my ideas fit well and feel good, regardless of what meter, tempo, or style of tune I am playing. JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? CB.Jr: – I’m open to all harmonies, and harmonic patterns, so long as it gets across who I am and what I feel in my soul! I draw from Major (and all deviations, ie. augmented Major 7, etc.), minor (all types), diminished, augmented, Locrian, sus, sus13 flat 9, chromaticism, tritone subs, slash chords, fourths, fifths, sixths, various alterations on a chords/ scales, combinations of any of those, inside playing, outside playing, in between playing (combining consonance with dissonance), and many other harmonies that I’m not even sure how to describe. A lot is on the table. JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2017: <Promise!>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. CB.Jr: – I call PROMISE! my second baby! I love that the album fulfills the promise set out by my debut album, Hopeful, which is to keep striving for new, and very creative ways to move the spirit, and stimulate the intellect. I believe that with my eight original tunes (some a bit far out, and some more standard) on my new album, coupled with the exceptional artistry of the musicians on the album, my counterparts Yoichi Uzeki (piano), Marcus McLaurine (bass), and Sylvia Cuenca (drums), and my Uncle Charles Bartlett (Special Guest on trumpet), that PROMISE! embodies what I feel, how I move through life, and a feeling that listeners of various tastes will be truly gripped by. It’s an honest representation of me, and I love that! JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year? CB.Jr: – I really dig Bringin’ It, by Christian McBride Big Band. The tunes and arrangements on this album are outstanding…brilliant! One thing that stands out to me on this album is that it has many colors. Each tune is captivating, has it’s own personality, and varies from the others. Many moods are captured, and that not only keeps things interesting (which is an understatement when describing this fabulous album), but moves the listeners’ spirit in so many ways, perhaps in ways they might not have known were possible. JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us? CB.Jr: – Friday, January 21, 2011 – The day that I officially through my hat into the Jazz pond and announced myself as an artist on the scene; This was the night of my CD Release Party for my debut album, Hopeful. It was held at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, in Manhattan, NYC. New York City had just experienced a monster snowstorm several days before that event. I remember on the night of the album’s release how completely frigid the Winter temperature was, and my family, friends, and myself stepping over mounds of snow and ice as we entered the venue. As I went inside and cleared the vestibule, what do I see but the entire lobby, and restaurant/waiting area filled with Fans, and Friends, smiling, cheering, and wishing me congratulations, as they prepared to go to the lower level for the show. We had a SOLD OUT evening! It was extremely cold outside, but inside was warm with love. I’ll always remember that night! JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business? CB.Jr: – Yes, absolutely! It is about, both, what you know and who you know. Be smart and research the music business to find avenues that are available to you, there might be more out there for you than you think. To my first point re: it’s what you know: I can’t stress enough, especially in the music business, to practice and become as proficient as you can at your craft, on your instrument(s), and as an overall musician. Whether it’s as an improviser, sight reader, section player, in some cases being able to competently play various genres of music, or all of these combined and beyond, expanding your ability can be of the utmost importance. Many times the path to “who you know” is via “how you play”. I encourage all musicians to take this to heart. With that also comes networking. Having your own Official Website, coupled with an email list of your fans and friends is a powerful way of keeping people (en masse) posted on your excellent music. This is very important. Also, having business cards to give to people who enjoy your playing is key. These steps are invaluable to young musicians, and to any musician who is interested in making music a career. Again, if you’re just starting out, please practice, then go out on the scene to concerts, quality Jam Sessions, play your best, connect with other musicians and people who like music in a general way, look for bands to join, start your own band, write your own music, know all of the venues that hire bands (and the booking contact point), and if you’d like, research a good manager and agent. You can and will do it! JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday? CB.Jr: – Well, for starters, Jazz is a gift! It’s a very special music of the spirit, and of the mind. It moves the soul whether simple, or complex, it’s a profound music. If we never lose sight of that and always keep the music deep in our hearts, then that alone will sustain us with regards to how we feel. Now, when there are careers to manage, this is where the business side of things comes into play. In today’s world, with tours, requirements from labels/management teams, a life of constant traveling, deadlines regarding media, marketing, and more, that might (depending on the individual) be enough to take away from that intrinsic joy of simply being able to practice, listen to, and just vibe with the music. If at all possible, it can indeed be a good thing to at times try and separate yourself from the business aspect, to simply reacquaint oneself with the special music (Jazz in this case) that initially moved you in such a profound way. JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you? CB.Jr: – As a lot of my performances feature my Jazz Quartet, Quintet, or Sextet, collaborations outside of that, for example with orchestras and big bands, and also recording with artists from various genres are all very important as they provide even more of a well rounded experience for me as a musician. Last month (December ’17) I performed with a Classical/Jazz Orchestra accompanied by a choir at Calvary Baptist Church (Manhattan, NYC), located across from Carnegie Hall, and we played some very powerful music for the Christmas Season, before a captivated, capacity audience. It was a very uplifting, and transcendent experience. JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old? CB.Jr: – I find that when Jazz is played in a refreshing manner (whether it be tone, a grooving band, exciting improvisation, how the melody is stated, the melody itself, etc.), that it is quite possible for young people to not merely be interested, but to in some cases actually be inspired to play Jazz, and at the very least crave to hear more of it, regardless of how old the tune is. When we speak about young people (not all, but many), delivery is key! I also state, however, that Jazz is a very personal, and expressive musical language, therefore a musician might be playing exceptionally well, with very deep ideas, but yet might not move a young person’s spirit. This, in my estimation, is not a matter of “fault” on the part of either the young person for not understanding, or by the musical artist who is telling a story. But, there’s good news: Learning about Jazz in schools, or programs outside of schools (via libraries, private lessons, online, the YMCA, etc.) will help! Once young people begin to learn about Jazz, its history, and the theory behind the sounds that they are experiencing, it turns on the switch in their minds. They begin recognizing the sounds they are hearing, and start to become much more receptive, creative, and inventive. As a means of spurring this learning process, a few years ago, I created a program entitled “JAZZ: The Music Of Our Lifetime!”, which my ensemble still presents. It consists of A) a “LIVE” performance by my band, B) an audience Q&A on what Jazz is, it’s key elements (Swing, The Blues, Improv., etc.) that make it feel and sound so great, it’s history, etc., and C) an audience participation portion. My band has presented it at several major Cultural Venues (ie. Queens Botanical Garden, Elmont Memorial Library Theatre, Queens Library at Flushing, and more), to young people, and people of all ages, with exceptional results regarding people learning much more about Jazz, and feeling inspired by the music that they’ve experienced. Now, with an open mind, people are in perfect position to receive Jazz in a whole new light. JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life? CB.Jr: – John Coltrane embodied a musical spirit, as did/do so many of our Jazz Giants! He was music, and music was him. For me, Jazz is embedded in my spirit. The saying is “Art Imitates Life”, but I say “Jazz Is Life!”. JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety? CB.Jr: – My expectations for the future are that I will continue to, and increasingly have a positive impact in peoples’ lives, and in the Jazz/ Music community through thoughtful, powerful performances of creative music. I expect to bring my music to as many people as I can around the world through traveling, radio, newspapers, magazines, and via the internet. What might bring me slight unease (not so much fear or anxiety) is making sure that I do my best to fulfill my complete potential as a musician/saxophonist/artist. When you realize that you are blessed with a gift, the worst thing to do is to take it for granted, and/or not to make good on it. I never want to say “what if I had”, or “how would I have sounded if only I had…”. These thoughts are not about anxiety, but rather act as a galvanizing presence in my life. JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be? CB.Jr: – The GRAMMYs would once again televise the Jazz portion of the Awards Show! JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you? CB.Jr: – Being that my sophomore album, “PROMISE!”, recently released, that is where my focus is as of now. We are currently in the midst of an East Coast Tour promoting the music on the album. After that, I’ll probably need just a little down time, and hope to focus more on a sustained shedding on my saxophone in order to reach new heights in my playing, and also compose new tunes during this time. Of course, I’ll still be playing shows, as always, with my band (but I’ll probably center it more locally, like the tri-state area), and also with other bands, and also recording with other artists. Then, there’s always the possibility of a third album. We’ll see what happens. JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music? CB.Jr: – Sure, improvisation is a common thread in all three (of course to varying degrees, but definitely present). Also, certain instruments are present quite often when performing these styles, such as the guitar, drums, wind instruments like the flute and trumpet, and surely the human voice! JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days? CB.Jr: – Sonny Stitt (who might be my favorite), Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Charlie Parker, James Moody, Michael Brecker, Carlos Averhoff, Jerry Bergonzi, Walt Weiskopf, Eric Alexander, Seamus Blake, and others. That’s the who. The what is nature…I’m always listening to life and seeing how it moves my spirit, and guides my music. JBN.S: – What’s your current setup? CB.Jr: – My current setup is a Keilwerth SX90R Alto Saxophone, a Jody Jazz HR* 9M Alto Sax Mouthpiece, and D’Addario Select Jazz Reeds for Alto Sax strength 2 Medium. JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go? CB.Jr: – I’d love to return to Barbados! Some of my family comes from Barbados, and I have friends that live there, too. I am enraptured by the wonderful people of the island, the pristine beaches, and the delicacies. My very first steps as a baby were in Barbados. Barbados is a special place to me. JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself… CB.Jr: – Simon, first off, thank you greatly for choosing me for an interview! I sincerely appreciate the exceptional work that you do for the Jazz community. You love the music, I can clearly feel that. What is it about Jazz music that moves you so strongly to do what you do? JBN.S: – Thanks very much !!! Jazz is life. Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… Interview by Simon Sargsyan” - Simon Sargsyan
“ Another Ambitious, Purist Postbop Album and a Smalls Release Show from Alto Saxophonist Carl Bartlett Jr. Alto saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr.’s new album PROMISE! picks up where his 2011 debut album Hopeful left off. Bartlett explores more of his extended technique here, but also his most translucent side. He’s good at finding pianists; Sharp Radway livened that release with every kind of bluesy purism imaginable. Here Yoichi Uzeki handles the 88s with flair and incision. Bartlett and his quartet are playing the album release show this Feb 1 at 7:30 PM at Smalls; cover is $20 and includes a drink. The album opens with the title track: Barlett flickers his valves and then they’re off into a catchy, rather tender theme that he shifts back and forth, sometimes marionettish, sometimes cheerily waltzing, Uzeki bounding and spiraling out of Bartlett’s smoky curlicues over Marcus McLaurine’s terse bass and Sylvia Cuenca’s playfully pouncing drums. Likewise, her carefree rims and hardware liven the clave groove of High Pizzazz, an epic containing a tongue-in-cheek, tiptoeing McLaurine solo, an enigmatically sailing one from the bandleader and finally more of those subtle metric shifts that Bartlett goes for throughout the album. Acidic piano/sax harmonies and a deviously funny joke open Dialed In (Like a Laser), a darkly latin-flavored, dizzyingly swinging romp with Bartlett’s tantalizing flash through a trilling peak and then a handoff to Uzeki, who runs through the raindrops. Uzeki ushers another waltz, As the Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes into a clearing and then brings in the clouds; Bartlett’s misty lyricism moves to the side and then back from McLaurine’s minimalist moodiness, the piano lingering in what seems to be a sobering carpe-diem atmosphere. A swinging shout-out to Bartlett’s fam features cheery harmonies with his trumpeter uncle Charles Bartlett, a purist somewhat gruffly choosing his spots, the sax responding with some wry chromatics as the song goes on. Pop Rocks from the bass open Ethereal Heartbeats; tasty sax/piano modalities introduce an almost furtive samba drive that backs away for scamper and then suspense, setting the stage for the bandleader’s most vivid, incisive solo here. With its sabretoothed, oboe-like sax intro and then its drifts in and out of waltz time, Fidgety Season maintains that gritty mood, Uzeki anchoring the song as Cuenca prowls in the underbrush. The album winds up with the toe-tapping jump blues tinged It’s Been So Grand, with more jousting between the Bartletts; the sax playing both sides in a two-way conversation is irresistibly fun. Some of this reminds of Kenny Garrett’s 90s work with Kenny Kirkland, an auspicious start. It’’s reason to look forward to more where this comes from.”
“Artist, CD-Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr.: PROMISE! I will start the new year with a review of a CD that has been released on December 14 by Carl Bartlett , Jr., an alto saxophonist and composer from Queens, NY. The album is called “PROMISE!” and Carl has produced and released it on his own label. He describes his music as Post-Bop/ Straight-Ahead/ Contemporary Jazz, so expect something new, something you have not heard before. There are 8 songs on the album, all are original material from Carl. The CD starts with the title song “PROMISE!” and as you can expect from a title with capital letters, the song is a strong statement of what the CD and Carl’s music is all about: After an intro with saxophone and piano the head is moving between 3/4 meter and 4/4 meter and the tonal center moves from Bb to Eb, which gives the the melody a very open feeling. With the solos comes then the rhythmic variation to a halt, but harmonically the two tonal centers continue to exist. Multiple tonal centers is one of the most characteristic elements of contemporary jazz music and we see with Carl a master in composing, arranging and playing this kind of music. Also his fellow musicians convince in this song, Yoichi Uzeki on piano and Sylvia Cuenca on drums shine with their solos. The second tune, a bossa nova called “High Pizzazz” has a 5/4 meter bridge and modulates between D minor and F# minor with the tonal center as C# major. The first solo here is given to Marcus McLaurine on bass, followed by Carl on alto saxophone. Even if this harmonic structure looks complex, you can follow this song quite easily. According to Carl “High Pizzazz” is a tune where people really connect during a concert and I am no exception here, this song is one of my favorite tunes on the album. The third song is called “Dialed In (Like A Laser)” and it starts with the saxophone mimicking a phone call followed by a furious unisono intro for piano and saxophone. The tune is a very fast swing in 11/4 meter with a interesting two bar piano vamp where the 11 beats are split into a 5-3-3 / 3-3-3-2 pattern. The best part of this song is the dialog between piano and drums followed by a great drums solo. Now it’s time for the ballad “As The Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes”. Yoichi Uzeki on piano plays a beautiful classically inspired intro. The melody has many long notes which are intoned perfectly by Carl. The first solo goes to Marcus McLaurine on bass, followed by shorter saxophone and piano solos. The next song is called “The Bartlett Family” and it features Charles Bartlett on trumpet. Charles is Carl’s uncle and he is also responsible for dragging Carl at the age of 14 into jazz music by presenting him a Brecker Brothers album on Christmas Day (to be precise it was the album Dream Suite/New York by Dreams). After the tunes in odd meters, “The Bartlett Family” sounds like traditional jazz music with it’s 4/4 medium swing and it’s almost regular form. The classic hard-bop quintet cast adds to this impression. Easy to follow and easy to listen, another of my personal favorites. “Ethereal Heartbeats” starts with a very freely improvised bass intro, followed by an enchanting melody in 5/4 meter. The solos are played over an 5/4 meter medium slow bossa nova and a 4/4 double time samba. These tempo changes and how light and easy the whole band stays on time is very impressive. “Fidgety Season” is the seventh song on the CD and this song was recorded before on Carl’s first album “Hopeful”. The tune is a 3/4 medium swing with solos for piano, bass, saxophone and drums. It comes with a nice melody and very pushing pulse in the saxophone solo. Carl told me that he recorded the song again because the audience likes it so much so he wanted to give a kind of deja-vu to the listeners (another reason is the little story around this song about Carl’s students becoming fidgety in June), so here you have the official Carl Bartlett, Jr. hymn. The CD finishes with “It’s Been So Grand”, a 24-bar blues in F key in best Charlie Parker tradition, very fast and with a chromatic melody played unisono by saxophone and trumpet. The solos are either in one key (trumpet) or are alternating between the F and B key (piano, saxophone). As a summary I have to say, the CD contains outstanding material, played excellently by very experienced and sophisticated musicians that understand the material very well. The band is playing together for quite some time and you can hear that, the interplay is impressive. Charles Bartlett as guest brings extra richness in sound but also a kind of traditional approach which helps the listener to relax a little bit. The mastering and the overall sound quality is also outstanding, all instruments are clear and distinct. All songs were recorded live so when you go to a concert you can expect the same kind of mastery. Carl was so generous to send me the lead sheets to all the songs which helped me a lot to see through all the rich material that has been provided on this album. I tried to explain the structure of the songs to give you a head start when listening to the CD. Please take your time to explore new territories, it’s worth. If you want to know more about Carl, please go to his website. It has updates on shows and links to order the CD. Enjoy. http://www.carlbartlettjr.com/” - Michael Ferber
“ Blessed with a warm, engaging tone and a writer of melodious, inviting tunes, Mr. Bartlett is an artist to watch in the burgeoning jazz community. Carl Bartlett, Jr. Jazz At Kitano New York, NY December 14, 2017 Sad to say, in jazz and certainly all music, often hidden from public view are good musicians, who, for any reason have not yet been given their due. Some exist slightly outside the frame but produce substantial art. The saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr. comes from this distinguished group. Blessed with a warm, engaging tone and a writer of melodious, inviting tunes, Mr. Bartlett is an artist to watch in the burgeoning jazz community. At his recent engagement at the Kitano Jazz Bar in New York in celebration of his new CD " Promise," this young musician certainly seem determined to mine his own place with a committed performance comprised of his own compositions. Things started off with the fiery opening notes of the title track, soon falling into a melodic groove. A good starter, this original made it clear that Mr. Bartlett is a talented player well in command of his instrument and a talented composer of a sturdy tune. Featuring many nice changes and space for his pianist and drummer to stretch, one could lean back and relax in their seat, assured of an evening of quality no fuss post-bop jazz. One of the highlights of the night came a couple tunes later in the inventive Bartlett original "Ethereal Heartbeats" (also off "Promise") that starts off with some challenging piano flourishes, dissolving into a brief bossa nova groove before finding it's way back to the original melody. This particular tune turns out to be a showcase for pianist Yoichi Uzeki, who sounds inspired here, despite a sometimes busy approach that didn't work as well on early selections of the night.—now sufficiently warmed up, Uzeki sounds more restrained and leaves tasteful space in his solos. Drummer Sylvia Cuenca, rhythmic and swinging, came into her own on "Dialed In Like A Laser" yet another original letting loose and moving the crowd. Bassist Marcus McLaurine shows steady, solid support. The most fun had this cool winter night featured "The Barlett Family," a delightful number referring to the musical Queens, NY family from which this fine young artist hails. Ably assisted by his uncle, trumpeter Charles Bartlett, it's a down-home crowd-pleaser, and a sense of La Familia was felt by all.” - Keith Henry Brown
“ Carl Bartlett Jr: Promise! For those who have ever missed a Carl Bartlett Jr performance in the recent past now is the time to catch up for we are all in luck. Mr. Bartlett has released the album Promise and it’s further evidence of what a fine composer and performer he really is. The album has eight songs, which may sound as if that’s a rather small number to have on a full-length album but, in fact, that is not the case. Each of the songs are gorgeous melodies developed from well-centred themes that unfold magnificently into fulsome improvisations from the alto saxophonist, and the remarkable members of his quartet, which includes Yoichi Uzeki on piano, the venerable Marcus McLaurine on contrabass and an outstanding drummer in the form of Sylvia Cuenca. Moreover, on two charts his uncle Charles Bartlett joins in to enliven the quartet. Carl Bartlett Jr is a revelation throughout. Music seems to come fluently to the saxophonist and ideas seem to flow right out of the bell of his horn. Mr. Bartlett is a deep thinker and the source of music is right down in his guts. Once this collides with the hot breath escaping from his lungs the gush of air quite literally lifts the black dots off the manuscript paper. Notes soar , dance and pirouette in the room, thick with music. It’s tempting, but very hard to single out just one or two tunes for special mention, but one is drawn almost instantly to “High Pizzazz” with its firm grasp of Brasilian metre and its overall sassy attitude. Mr. Bartlett shows magnificent grasp of time as he makes quick and adventurous rhythms changes several times through the piece. The other beckoning piece is “Ethereal Heartbeats” which serves notice of the composer’s rather mystical bent of mind. The addition of brassy heat on a wonderful sketch, “The Bartlett Family” and the concluding “It’s Been So Grand” are both features for the young alto saxophonist’s uncle, Charles Bartlett. The trumpeter brings music right from the bluest part of the flame. While his elemental wail scorches both tunes, his trumpet breaks are utterly glorious on the latter chart. But it is the alto saxophonist who steals one’s heart throughout this performance. His tone is sharp, yet can turn sumptuous when the pace of the music slows to balladic metre, as on “As The Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes”. Then, listening to the way in which Mr. Bartlett seductively bends the notes and sculpts longer sustained inventions is a clear signal that there’s not a semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered. And that speaks to the maturity of a truly talented alto saxophonist who is a welcome gift to Jazz. Track list – 1: Promise! 2: High Pizzazz; 3: Dialed In (Like a Laser); 4: As the Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes; 5: The Bartlett Family; 6: Ethereal Heartbeats; 7: Fidgety Season; 8: It’s Been so Grand Personnel – Carl Bartlett Jr: alto saxophone; Yoichi Uzeki: piano; Marcus McLaurine: contrabass; Sylvia Cuenca: drums; Charles Bartlett: trumpet (5, 8) Released – 2017 Label – Independent Runtime – 1:00:20” - Raul da Gama
“ 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” - Annabelle Blair