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 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.