Did you know that August 15 is National Relaxation Day? In a year where what’s left of our liberties are increasingly under fire in every waking moment, it’s hard to think about relaxing. That’s where Carl Bartlett Jr.’s new mega-single Serene New You Sax – streaming at the project’s music page – comes in.
The alto saxophonist is best known as a fiery, articulate player in the Coltrane tradition, so this is a radical departure for him. It’s a balmy, hypnotically atmospheric album-length solo piece conceived and produced during the early days of the lockdown, perfect for meditation or just chilling.
Diehard jazz fans will notice how artfully Bartlett slows down and deconstructs the kind of phrases he would ordinarily play at maybe eight times the speed. The light ambient electronics and minimalist resonance will remind others of Brian Eno, and Bartlett develops a soothing ballad at the end. Ultimately, this is about finding a calm center, something we definitely need more of these days.