It’s been a rough year for everyone on multiple levels. People around the world were forced (or strongly encouraged) to stay home for weeks and compelled to fill their time in creative ways. Young jazz artist, Luke Carlsen, used his down time to record his debut album, which includes his first single “What’ll I Do” that premieres today. Called the “millennial crooner”, Carlsen’s smooth baritone gives his fresh take on the 1923 American Songbook classic by composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin.
Carlsen says about why he chose to record this song, “It was kind of a joke I had with myself. When the pandemic started I thought to myself, “What’ll I Do? AAHHHHHHH!!” (Cue Charlie Brown’s “UGH.”) Then I started to take it more seriously and realized I could arrange something stripped-back, vulnerable, and haunting, which were definitely some of the emotions I was feeling at the time of recording.”
To create the single, Luke teamed up with pianist/producer Patrick Tully (The Chainsmokers). Together they recorded five other jazz standards and one original song over the past few months during the pandemic shutdown. In addition, Carlsen recruited multi-platinum award-winning mastering engineer Alex DeYoung (Michael Jackson, BTS, Jill Scott), and studio engineer Nolan Shaheed (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye).
Carlsen got his first break onto the LA jazz scene in 2016 when he met legendary jazz singer, Barbara Morrison, at Steamers Jazz Club in Southern California. She spontaneously called him up on stage with her to sing “Fly Me to Moon,” and the audience went wild after his performance. That evening was the springboard for his career, which catapulted him into other famous jazz venues throughout LA as well as a residency with his 12-piece band at the Disneyland Resort.
Carlsen’s vocal chops also landed him a spot on a national TV series. After producers got wind of one of his performances, they immediately called him to perform in the first episode of the HBO series, Perry Mason, which premiered last June.
Carlsen’s rendition of “What’ll I Do” is quite mesmerizing and a bit haunting. The song is crafted by one of the top songwriters of the past century, and the millennial crooner easily rises to do it justice. His voice naturally hugs each note, with a sense of maturity and subtle optimism that sounds better with each listen.
Regardless if you are a jazz fan or not, this young artist will capture your attention and your heart. If the rest of his debut album is this good, Luke Carlsen will certainly be a name we all recognize very soon.