Carl Bartlett, Jr. | Hopeful

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Outstanding "Hopeful" Album Review, on "All About Jazz"! Carl Bartlett, Jr. - OFFICIAL WEBSITE! Great "Hopeful" album review, on "Review You"

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Moods: Type: Improvisational
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by Carl Bartlett, Jr.

A sensational jazz debut for the saxophonist, and Queens native! All moods are encompassed on this breakthrough album from majestic/sentimental ballads to explosive/cutting edge tempos and chord progressions. A true gem of deep and thoughtful music!
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hopeful
4:57 album only
2. Fidgety Season
6:33 album only
3. Julie B.
10:31 album only
4. Quantum Leaps (And Bounds)
7:36 album only
5. Release
6:48 album only
6. Seven Up
5:06 album only
7. It Could Happen To You
10:05 album only
8. I Love Lucy
6:13 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet – Hopeful – self
Carl Bartlett, Jr.'s CD makes jazz lovers realize we are in good hands.

Published on September 25, 2012
Carl Bartlett, Jr. Quartet/Quintet – Hopeful, self, 2011, 57:55 ****:

(Carl Bartlett, Jr, alto saxophone; Sharp Radway, piano; Eric Lemon, bass; Emanuel Harrold, drums; Charles Bartlett, trumpet (track 7); Ron Jackson, guitar (track 4)).

This is the debut CD by the then 28-year-old Mr. Bartlett. He sees himself in the straight-ahead, progressive camp. That’s a very apt description for this disc of six originals and two very fine interpretations of standards. Evident throughout are the contributions and impact of growing up in a musical family (his uncle and father have led a long running show and dance band with the young Bartlett both observing their professionalism and occasionally seeing the audience from the stage when asked to join in). He earned a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, teaches, and is partway through a postgraduate music program. The sessions for “Hopeful” were held in the summer of 2010 before being released, meeting the usual high sonic standards offered by the jazz idiom.

Interestingly, things start off with a 4:57 unaccompanied alto sax solo. Almost like a warmup for an audition. Bartlett demonstrates his command, ideas and love for the alto through telling his story as just a musician and a horn. A ballsy but very admirable statement which nicely sets the stage for the introduction of the ensemble.

Bartlett wrote “Fidgety Season” as a tribute to his middle school students. It’s his interpretation of the June month when the kids get jittery with the anticipation of summer. It starts in 5/4 time before setting a jazz waltz feel prior to fidgeting back to 5/4 for Emanuel Harrod’s drum solo before slowing back for the ending.

Track three is a ballad dedicated to Barlett’s mother. The exquisite and moving alto and group performance is highlighted by a sensitive solo by bassist Lemon. “Quantum Leaps(And Bounds)” is my favorite. This is a fast hard charging workout adding the explorational guitar of Ron Jackson to the quartet. The unison playing of alto and guitar is fantastic and creative. But a real treat is the two men’s solos and trades recalling the legendary duels of Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons and others. This might be a good time to identify Bartlett’s declared influences. He was spurred toward jazz in his early teens by hearing his father’s record of the Brecker Brothers “New York City”. He also cites Stitt, Charlie Parker and Joshua Redman. I even hear some Dolphyisms now and then. Very imaginative writing and superlative playing abounds everywhere on this monster track which reveals cunning compositional skills.

“Seven Up” exemplifies what Bartlett means by progressive mainstream and is the last of his six original compositions. It’s a blues number, but in 7/4. It presents a fine piano solo, the usual well-toned Bartlett solo, and a nice drum spot by Harrold to supplement his tasteful support evident throughout the album. This track also provides a super example of how well this disc was recorded for an independent project.

“Release” is Carl’s bossa nova. It’s pleasantly pleasing, revealing the quartet as an optimally running engine with all brilliantly contributing to the whole. “It Could Happen To You” introduces on trumpet and celebrates the impact Bartlett’s uncle, Charles Bartlett, had on his life. We get lengthy trumpet and sax solos, followed by a bass solo with gentle comping by pianist Radway. Towards the end there’s some initial gentle trading by the Bartletts before things pick up furiously until the sound becomes monstrously busy – another example of envelope pushing.

The beloved “I Love Lucy” is the final tune. The theme is stated, then the tempo is briefly picked up before being slowed down for the piano solo. It then speeds up for interesting sax/drums trades including just clever snippets of the melody. A thoughtfully-arranged ending closes out the disc.

Going back to the analogy of this debut being like an audition. If so, Carl Bartlett, Jr totally aced it. This album is the type of introduction that really doesn’t happen that often. When it does, it makes jazz lovers realize we are in good hands. Bartlett is talented enough to receive the type of label support given to someone like James Carter for his initial release. Even without it, the composing, arrangements, playing and production values are top-drawer. Congrats, guys!

TrackList: Hopeful; Fidgety-Season; Julie B.; Quantum Leaps(And Bounds); Release; Seven Up; It Could Happen To You; I Love Lucy.

—Birney K. Brown, "Audiophile Audition"

Artist: Carl Bartlett Jr.
Album: Hopeful
Review by Gary Brown

Carl Bartlett Jr.’s Hopeful is a treat for anyone who enjoys the smoke-filled, traditional, and contemporary style of Jazz. Although the first six tracks on Hopeful are original works, they resonate with the eloquence and spirit of John Coltrane. With the assistance of his band, including Sharp Radway on piano, Eric Lemon on bass, Emanuel Harrold on drums, Charles Bartlett on trumpet, and Ron Jackson on guitar, Bartlett, Jr. and crew deliver a well-balanced blueprint for success.

The first and arguably finest track of the group, “Hopeful,” touts Carl’s exuberant yet original alto saxophone play. Reminiscent of a backdrop to a film-noir soundtrack, “Hopeful” displays the strength and confidence of an accomplished artist. The song is complete, as a tour-de-force alto saxophone solo highlights Carl’s skilled range and sensitivity in his approach to Jazz. Next, “Fidgety Season” begins as an upbeat and well-orchestrated track complete with an apt piano introduction that embraces the depth of Carl’s jazz ensemble. “Fidgety Season” showcases a traditional jazz tune filled with lively piano and drum solos culminated by Carl’s vibrant alto leads throughout.

Another masterwork created by Bartlett, Jr. and Co. is “Julie B,” which gracefully intones the deep emotional moods of the eight song collaboration. “Julie B” shines through as an extended but well-paced melody of the set on which the magnificence continues as the jazz ensemble maintains its intensity and keen organization of tracks. The calm, serene atmosphere highlights Eric Lemon’s crafty bass talents, allowing the song to shine while accentuating Carl’s alto virtuoso. The next track, “Quantum Leaps and Bounds,” opens like a mood-filled emotional piece but quickly cascades and leaps into an upbeat montage of piano, bass, drum, and Ron Jackson’s dazzling guitar lead. With hints of George Benson and Wes Montgomery, it offers the set an acoustic flavor drenched in rich tone, balance, and artistic creativity. The intense guitar resonance is accompanied halfway by Carl’s powerful saxophone flair, culminating into a fusion of elegance and grace.

“Release” continues the second half of the set as a mellow bass-filled song of beauty. Carl’s lead again is reminiscent of Coltrane’s strength in tone and character. “Seven Up” provides a skillful performance featuring Carl’s cheerful saxophone intro, Sharp Radway’s well-paced piano lead, and Emanuel Harrold’s enticing drum solos. The sharp-edged collaboration here is undoubtedly the most optimistic tune of the entire set. The song also has the elegance the 1950’s and 1960’s era where jazz music and ballrooms would swing with dancing charm. “It Could Happen to You” captures Charles Bartlett’s brilliance on trumpet as the song sways in both style and poise throughout. The final track of the group, “I Love Lucy,” starts like a darkly mesmerizing jazz piece that gradually leaps into the fervent theme song of the show many have come to love. “I Love Lucy” brings Carl Bartlett, Jr.’s group full circle as the tune picks up tempo and maintains its stylishness saxophone riffs that only Carl can provide, and is a befitting final piece to an excellent portrait of Carl Bartlett, Jr. and his group of gifted jazz performers.

Carl Bartlett Jr.’s Hopeful brings together a very smooth mix of traditional, contemporary, and enthusiastic jazz. The 8-track set never fails in its delivery of skillfully composed songs that represent today’s contemporary jazz scene while not forgetting the past. Carl Bartlett, Jr. and his band have given radio and home listeners another reason to enjoy the pure pleasures of jazz.

Review by Gary Brown, "Review You"
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)



to write a review

Denis Gray

How bold is Carl Bartlett, Jr. to begin his debut album with a solo cut, "Hopeful" (the CD's title tune), that grabs your attention like a meteorite--is telling the listener he's in control of this record date--then begins mesmerizing you with his one-of-a-kind tone from his alto sax, then unpacks his ideas one by one from a suitcase full of them. And then we get to "Julie B.," a tune so hauntingly beautiful, you just drift...But what about "Quantum Leap" with the interplay between Bartlett's sax and Ron Jackson's guitar that's so wild, hectic, and viruosic, that it's combustible to the point where it's hard to catch your breath--if you still have one left! Hey, Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke's tune gets a play and Carl and Charles Bartlet, on trumpet, take the great old tune and fill it with so much music that it pivots and twirls and bounds and leaps and then vanishes in full flight with us firmly in its grasp. And the final tune "I Love Lucy," you have to hear to BELIEVE; this truly is a creative masterpiece of invention.
And the sidemen, what a bunch of extraordinary players, Sharp Radway, piano, Eric Lemon, bass, Emanuel Harrold, drums, Charles Bartlett, trumpet, and Ron Jackson, guitar. Check out the lovely interplay between Radway and Harrold on "Fidgety Season"--yes--"lovely." And let's not forget, Carl Bartlett, Jr. wrote six of the eight tunes on Hopeful.
Why, it doesn't get any better than this. HALLELUJAH!!