Joshua Redman's new release, Compass, reminds us that any artist in any media who focuses on creativity and personal growth in the spotlight of career success is one to be admired. Highly visible since 1993, when he signed a lucrative contract with Warner Bros., toured the world with a band comprising super-sidemen Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, followed by a peer-grouper unit with nascent titans Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade; Redman never enjoyed the luxury of space in which to beta-test ideas out of public view. The son of the innovative tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, an absentee dad in his formative years, Redman is a pragmatist, who knew from firsthand observation of his father's material struggles how difficult the jazz life is. Yet he's never been a play-it-safe musician, as is evident on his albums of the '90s, which, if not formally venturesome, showed Redman digesting vocabulary from various key saxophone food groups -- thematic improvisation from Sonny Rollins, high structure from Joe Henderson, harmonic poetry from Wayne Shorter, inflamed soul-spirit catching from John Coltrane, swinging harmonic logic from Dexter Gordon, telling a story with one note from Gene Ammons -- and gradually molding them into a unitary voice of his own. All of those '90s dates showcased Redman's impeccable musicianship, unerring time, centered tone, and meticulous articulation, his enviable knack for creating elegant melodies within complex structures and infusing them with emotional content. These virtues come through on Compass, a sort of successor album to Back East from 2007, Redman's first documented exploration of the saxophone-bass-drums trio format. Here the virtuoso expands his canvas, deploying bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers and drummers Blade and Greg Hutchinson in trio, quartet and quintet configurations on charts infused with the off-the-map attitude that Redman also revealed on Momentum, a 2005 date with Elastic Trio, a plugged-in, groove-and-timbre oriented unit including Blade and keyboardist Sam Yahel. Within the uncluttered sonic space, Redman, who turns 40 this year, uncorks a string of well-wrought soliloquies, his mood reflective, dialogic, occasionally dark, and always musical.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.