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 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

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.