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'Our vocal group at school had been offered the opportunity to record an on-air spot at Jazz 88.3 for a festival at City College," says La Mesa resident and jazz vocalist Karin Carson. "I went to the station, recorded the spot, and was offered an opportunity to become an intern. For two semesters I worked as the promotions assistant at Jazz 88.3. Eventually I would like to learn the art of being a DJ, but for now I am singing and volunteer my time at events. When people have asked me what I do there, I say, 'Whatever they tell me to do. '"

On her website Karin writes: "I have always had a passion for music, but in the years I was growing up I was exposed to very little real jazz music. I would sing in church, in school choirs...although there was plenty of passion in the music, as well as expression, I felt unmoved."

Karin Carson will be singing jazz standards Friday, November 25, at Scalini Restaurant in Del Mar.

TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?

"To me, jazz is a live music. It is for the people. Since there are varied impressions on what jazz is, there is a level of expectation that may or may not be met in a live setting. I have tended to play more traditional styles of jazz, but I'm moving into a more creative space.... In playing jazz, every experience is different due to constant improvisation. Dave Holland said it best: 'You have to let go of expectations and allow the magic to happen. '"

TOP FIVE END-OF-THE-WORLD CDs?

1. Ramsey Lewis, Wade in the Water. "Soulful funk with some gospel blues thrown in and a taste of ragtime. This old-school jazz makes you want to dance!"

2. Cassandra Wilson, Belly of the Sun. "Cassandra's mellow tone and experience in the industry speaks to me. You can hear the stories in her music."

3. Josephine Baker, Josephine Baker Box Set. "There is a wild side to jazz that Baker epitomized with her lifestyle. She was an entertainer that lived her music with great flamboyance."

4. Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) (soundtrack). "After playing Black Orpheus at Jam Session's, I finally saw the original film and have been listening to the soundtrack written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá. The story is based on the myth of Orpheus and his love for Eurydice. A tragic story -- it brings new meaning to the bossa nova."

5. The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem, and More -- 25th Anniversary. "I am planning a tribute to Jim Henson on his birthday. We will be performing 'The Music of the Muppets. '"

BEST GIG?

"Had to be my very first show. I played a tribute to Nina Simone at Dizzy's and sold the show out. We played two of the most frightening and exhilarating sets of my life. Dr. Carroll Waymon [Nina Simone's brother], a San Diego resident, graced us with his presence."

WORST GIG?

"One of the first bands I joined, appropriately called Mis-led, rehearsed at this place called the Pelican Pub in Lemon Grove. Led by a guitarist straight out of the Big Hair Era, the band included me doing backup vocals, a lead female vocalist, a female drummer, and my friend on bass. We would play every week for tips, and the same ten people would dance to the same set of Blondie, the Motels, 4 Non Blondes, Alanis Morissette, and No Doubt covers. The first night we made $5 in tips. I made my first musical dollar playing there."

WEIRD GIG DREAMS?

"I am a pretty vivid dreamer. I tend to have the dream similar to the dream where you want to run but are fixed in place, and everything goes in slow motion. It is like that, only I can't sing when cued and everything slows down. My mouth is still open and moving, but nothing is coming out. In one dream I am sitting at a piano talking to Chick Corea about music. Just before I wake up he tells me, 'Everything is going to work out just fine, don't worry. It's about the music -- you have to breathe it in. '"

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