Fred Hersch Plays Jobim

Fred Hersch is a smart musician, and he commences his solo piano tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim in a typically smart way. "Por Toda Minha Vida," one of the Brazilian composer's lovely and durable melodies, is given a compressed treatment, brief, unembellished, free of improvisation. Hersch makes his point: this album will be as much about Jobim's towering achievements as it will reflect his own considerable pianistic abilities. If not quite the household name that he deserves to be (at least in North America; in his homeland he?s a revered figure), ?Tom? Jobim (1927-1994) remains virtually synonymous with bossa nova, the lulling musical genre that arose in Brazil in the late 1950s. (Our enduring love affair with the music can be gleaned from the success of Diana Krall?s recent bossa-based project Quiet Nights.) For his part, Hersch applies his alternately lyrical and firmly rhythmic touch to some of Jobim's most popular melodies -- "Corcovado," "O Grande Amor," "Insensatez," and "Desafinado" -- while avoiding the ubiquitous though (as far as Jobim devotees are concerned) never played-out "Wave" and "The Girl from Ipanema." He also lights on lesser-known Jobim tunes, including the gently beautiful "Luiza." Marked throughout is Hersch?s unerring rightness in balancing his own extemporaneous inventions within Jobim?s sturdy foundations; his obvious love and respect for this material fortifies each performance. Supposedly, this album was originally recorded years ago as one of Hersch?s multi-part tributes to favorite composers, back when he was signed with Nonesuch Records. We?re lucky it?s finally reached the light of day.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.