Los Angeles based vocalist, Karen Blixt, is out to make an instant good impression. Her debut CD does exactly that. There’s an old expression that urges "If you’ve got it, flaunt it." This young woman has the talent, taste and the "smarts" to put it all together. She armed herself with a dozen fine songs, a fine arranger and some great jazz musicians. The result is an astounding debut boldly titled Spin This
The fearless Californian kicks off the album with Count Basie’s and Jon Hendrick’s revered "Swingin’ The Blues" and the singer shows an obvious devotion to Annie Ross. Karen Blixt follows up with a little-known item from South Pacific
. "Carefully Taught" made the show’s 1949 audience a bit uneasy. Those were different times and Oscar Hammerstein took every opportunity to express his distaste for racial prejudice. Although the song was included in folio printings of South Pacific
, the tune didn’t receive individual publication for more than a decade. With the exceptions of Sammy Davis Jr. and Marian Anderson, very few performers bothered to record this gem from Rodgers and Hammerstein. Blixt makes it a cornerstone of her debut album.
A couple of other show tunes are included. Listeners will enjoy the singer’s knockout reading of "Night And Day" and an especially appealing and unusual version of "My Favorite Things."
Karen Blixt surrounds herself with a bevy of great instrumentalists like Buddy Montgomery, Paul McCandless, Russell Ferrante and the spectacular percussionist Alex Acuna. Add arranger/pianist Frank Martin and the boisterous organist Joey DeFrancesco and things begin to percolate. We loved the singer’s take on the old standard "When You’re Smiling." Joey DeFrancesco joins Blixt for a vocal duet backed by Buddy Montgomey’s vibes and the exciting drumming of Byron Landham.
Blixt and Frank Martin offer a trio of their own compositions in the form of the highly original title song, the swinging ballad "Kitchen Blue" and the impressive closer, "Something So True." The closing tune features Russell Ferrante on piano with oboe, cello, acoustic bass and Acuna’s percussion. It’s quite beautiful!
Karen Blixt is a natural, honest and confident jazz performer. In this writer’s humble opinion, Spin This
is one of the finest debut recordings to come my way in a long time. It’s highly recommended. Samples may be found at CD Baby.