McCoy Tyner exudes magisterial authority, as though his musical declamations were etched in stone. Tyner's home-grown vocabulary is crucial to the sound of the 21st century jazz narrative---his system of navigating harmony with fourth intervals has influenced countless pianists since the '60s, and he continues his pioneering investigations into the rhythms and scales of Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and India as improvisational fodder, while not neglecting the chordal structures of the American Songbook. Then there's his sound, resonant, drumlike, each note articulated with the soulful cadences of midcentury African-American church and blues culture. That said, when Tyner performs in middling company, as he has done on more than a few recordings, he can sound predictable, stylized, and tedious. But environments that include tonal personalities who inspire Tyner to sculpt in notes and tones with, as he once described it, "a controlled sense of experimentation" have produced some of his most inspired outings. One such is Guitars, on which the 70-year-old maestro and all-world bass-drum team Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette encounter guitar heroes Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Derek Trucks, and Marc Ribot, as well as banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck. The 14 pieces, primarily Tyner chestnuts, offer a study in contrasts -- Scofield uncorks inflamed post-Coltrane lines; Trucks wails blues connotations; Frisell tells griotic stories with evocative timbre and patient beats; Fleck spins his with African-inflected percussive thrust; Ribot navigates the chords with astringent, gnarly cadences and persuades the leader to record, for the first time, two atonal duos. Tyner is completely engaged throughout, prodding his partners -- an interactive DVD provides the back-story of each meeting -- and responding to their postulations with implacable grace.

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.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
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.