Read and Spin

On Jan. 12-13, 2007, two mellow music legends illuminated the Allen Room at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. In front of a 50-by-90 foot wall of glass overlooking Central Park and NYC’s skyline, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis performed their hearts out for lucky fans. The result: Two Men with the Blues. The album features Nelson and Marsalis’ take on classics like “Bright Lights Big City,” “Caldonia” and “Basin Street Blues.” While there aren’t any new songs on the album, Two Men With the Blues is a snapshot of a wonderful performance and a great moment in music.

Theresa Andersson enchants listeners with her siren songs yet again with her newest album, Hummingbird, Go!, recorded, publicity has it, in Andersson’s very own kitchen. The album goes out on a limb, featuring a few bizarre stylistic choices – such as the squeaky background vocals in “Hi-Low” – but, as always, her vocals are stunning. “Birds Fly Away,” the first single off the album, and “Na Na Na” are sure to be hits. The sixth song, too, is haunting and beautiful, though the lyrics are likely more prolific to those who speak Swedish.

Fiction l Forty years after a flaming kimono levels a Japanese city a la Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, Samuri detective Sano Ichiro must solve the mystery in The Fire Kimono, by local author Laura Joh Rowland. The novel, set in Edo (17th-century Tokyo), follows a string of historical thrillers by Rowland. While the story is solid, the dialogue doesn’t quite match, reading overly modern in spots; the novel is, however, action-packed and an entertaining read overall. (Available Nov. 11.)

Non-fiction l Author Shannon Lee Dawdy examines intellect, urban planning, trade, social status and law in Building the Devil’s Empire: French Colonial New Orleans. The author addresses New Orleans’ reputation as America’s colonial bad-boy, presenting the historical period ethnographically, looking more deeply into the people of New Orleans than any other developmental factor. The book is an interesting read, offering unique insight into the early settlers’ influence on the city as it stands today.