2016-04-27 / Features

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!

This column was originated in July 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian.

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