Stones World

In 1999, when Tim Ries made his first tour playing saxophone and keyboards for the Rolling Stones, it was just becoming commonplace for hard-core jazz folk to deploy "new standards" -- industry parlance for the popular music that formed the soundtrack of the baby boom and subsequent generations in place of the iconic contents of the Great American Songbook, filled with II-V-I chord progressions and jazz-like harmonies -- as raw materials for improvising and interpretation. Ries made his own contribution to this movement in 2005, with the Rolling Stones Project (Concord), achieved in five separate recording sessions. Drawing upon the immersive experience of rehearsing, playing, observing, and reflecting upon hundreds of Stones songs, Ries reimagined ten of them, using as personnel three of the Stones, pop stars Sheryl Crowe and Norah Jones, Stones backup singers Bernard Fowler and Lisa Fischer, and jazz guitar heroes Bill Frisell and John Scofield. On the follow-up, Stones World (Sunnyside), recorded at various waystations on the Stones' 2005-7 "Bigger Bang" world tour, Ries ups the ante, tailoring the arrangements to reflect the grooves, meters, harmonies, and phrasing of the ethnic and national styles encountered, while remaining true to the melodic essence of each piece. Spanish dancer Sara Baras treats "Jumping Jack Flash" as a flamenco; Eddie Palmieri and sonero Hector Oliveros salsify "Under My Thumb"; the Tuareg group Tidawt Afro-funks the formerly reggae-ish "Hey Negrita," which sports an ebullient harmonica solo from Mick Jagger and lap steel guitar from Ron Wood; singer Ana Moura transforms "Brown Sugar" and "No Expectations" into vehicles for fado; French rapper Fe joins Fatima El Shibli, Magos Herrera, and Lisa Fischer to bring a one-world attitude to "Salt of the Earth"; and Fowler imparts a soulman sensibility to "Miss You." Lest you forget who the leader is, Ries himself blows a succession of informed tenor and soprano saxophone solos, propelled throughout by Charlie Watts's endlessly crisp, buoyant, jazzy beats.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

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

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
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.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."