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.”