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Karen Blixt : Mad Hope

Given Karen Blixt’s enthusiasm for playing with time, so ably demonstrated two years ago on her debut disc, Spin This, it seems entirely apropos that she be the one to rediscover “Take Ten,” Paul Desmond’s little-known follow-up to his gargantuan “Take Five.” Reshaped as a vocal duet featuring Kenny Washington, with Blixt-penned lyrics that cleverly reference its iconic antecedent, “Take Ten” is clearly the album’s centerpiece, though hardly its only gem.

Supported by a veritable jazz who’s who-bassist Abraham Laboriel, drummer Will Kennedy, keyboardists Patrice Rushen and Frank Martin (who co-wrote eight of the songs and shaped the majority of the arrangements), percussionist Alex Acuña, trumpeter Randy Brecker and a half-dozen others that weave in and out-Blixt further demonstrates her dexterity at time travel on a tightly woven “Billie’s Bounce,” the witty “Jazz Ants,” the vivacious “Faith, Baby, Faith” and, particularly, the free-flowing “7th Heaven.”

Throughout the rest of this fine album, Blixt plays less with time than with temperature, wandering up and down the thermometer as she progresses from a twilight-cool reading of Joe Zawinul’s “Shadow and Light” and a brisk “Antigua” (written to commemorate her adopted children’s birthplace) to the Latin heat of “Desire in Your Heart” and, finally, the quiet warmth of “You Are There.”

Originally Published