Carl Bartlett Jr. was drawn by the sometimes subtle power of a saxophone at a young age.
“I was 11 when I first picked up a saxophone,” he said. “My father played it, so I wanted to play it too. Three years later I began to play jazz.”
His love of music led the St. Albans native and Cambria Heights resident to become a composer, performer and middle school music teacher in the Bronx.
But about two years ago — long before the COVID-19 pandemic — he decided that music could help people relax and cope with the stress in their daily lives.
On Aug. 15 — National Relaxation Day — Bartlett will introduce the website serenenewyousax.com, where he will offer original compositions written with relaxation in mind. The track will be a 35-minute piece titled “Serene New You Sax.”
The music can be downloaded digitally.
“No packages to wait for,” he said.
The first five days get the buyer a 33 percent discount, while those ordering on the 15th also get a free selection of photos Bartlett shot himself of images he feels will foster a sense of serenity, good for wallpaper for desktops, laptops and tablets.
While he believes people today are in need of good music to help with difficult times, a pandemic was the furthest thing from his mind when Bartlett decided he wanted to create a business to bring a sense of stress and anxiety relief to people through his music.
“In about 2018, I keyed in on a news story that said people needed a way to manage their stress and anxiety in their lives in their homes, at their jobs, wherever,” Bartlett, 38, told the Chronicle in a telephone interview. “That really affected me ... I just wanted to help people out as much as I could.”
And it is his original work.
“I’m the composer, the arranger and the musician,” he said with chuckle. “The only thing I didn’t do was studio technician. I went to a very good place in Manhattan for that.”
He said there is no one creative process, but that he very often will hear a melody or harmony in his head.
“I’ll put down the chords,” he said, “then build the rest around them.”
It is a process that has won him acclaim from his peers. In 2015 he took first in the United States and second in the world in the jazz category of the International Songwriting Competition for his work “Quantam Leaps (And Bounds).” The competition that year had 18,500 entries from 120 countries.
Bartlett’s influences and his CD rack include the likes of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Stitt and Joshua Redman.
This story was edited to reflect Bartlett's birthplace as St. Albans and his residence as Cambria Heights. The two originally were transposed. The Chronicle regrets the error.