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 downhome crowd pleaser, and a sense of La Familia was felt by all.
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