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.