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Karen Blixt: Spin This

There are many facets to this album, and none are easy to digest quickly. The messenger and her message must be heard carefully. Kern and Hammerstein’s “Carefully Taught” (from Show Boat, 1927) begins: “You gotta be carefully taught to be afraid/Of people whose eyes are oddly made/People whose skin is a different shade/You gotta be carefully taught.” On her CD debut, Blixt preaches on her own title tune: “Doublespeak addiction makes you dizzy, leaves you dim/And you’ll go down in history as a puppet of spin.”

On purely musical levels, Blixt takes liberties with time: Following a conversation between two bass clarinets on Monk’s “It’s Over Now,” she shows her passion for odd meters; “My Favorite Things,” urged on by electric bass and percussion, is sung in 11/8. Try figuring out the meter on “Night & Day,” but not during Alex Acuna’s drum solo.

For ballads, Blixt’s voice can be tender and intimate, as on “You Don’t Know Me.” Another poignant tune is “I Thought About You,” backed only by Buddy Montgomery on piano. The most relaxed, straightahead swing comes on a duet with organist Joey DeFrancesco on “When You’re Smiling.” Blixt, an extremely versatile singer, often obscures the beauty of her tone as she concentrates on the academics of swinging.

Originally Published