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CD –– With Cassandra Wilson’s latest jazz album, Silver Pony, she had a tough act to follow: herself. Wilson won a Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for 2008’s Loverly, along with other accolades, so her newest project had to up the ante. She recruited a new band chock-full of New Orleanians to find a new sound, plus she collaborated with artists such as Ravi Coltrane and John Legend on Silver Pony, which was recorded in both New Orleans and Spain. The album features updated, jazzy versions of classics such as Muddy Waters’ “Forty Days and Forty Nights” and The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” Wilson, a Mississippi native, now lives in the French Quarter.

Cookbook –– New Orleans has always been a beacon of French culture, among many others. One aspect that’s thriving is the art of French cuisine, particularly from New Orleans Magazine’s choice for Best French Restaurant, Café Degas. The restaurant’s cookbook, Café Degas Cookbook by Troy Gilbert with Jerry Edgar and Jacques Soulas, will be available in March and will feature restaurant favorites such as Boudin Noir, South Louisiana Crawfish Crêpes, Chicken Basquaise and more. The cookbook also features another French staple: adult beverages, including recipes for the Pimm’s Cup, Spiced Mulled Wine and French 75.

History –– For history buffs, a picture says even more than a thousand words. St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History by Joan Weaver Becnel, Suzanne Friloux and Marilyn Mayhall Richoux, with contributions by Fay Walker Louque, chronicles the history of New Orleans’ neighboring parish with detailed maps, letters, timelines and, of course, myriad photos and illustrations from as far back as the 18th century. The book delves into the founding of the parish as well as the subsequent centuries of progress, featuring not only prominent figures throughout its history, but behind-the-scenes stories of average citizens and lifestyles.

Children’s –– Ricci Broussard Hebert, a former schoolteacher and mother of two, released her children’s book debut with A Saintsational Swamp Adventure, illustrated by Sean Gautreaux, illustrator of Cornell P. Landry’s Happy JazzFest. The book tells the story of a group of swamp creatures, including Babette the mosquito and Amos the alligator, making their way to the Black and Gold Super Bowl celebration.

 

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