A Beach of Dreams (North Star Music)
This first of a pair of CDs dedicated to tropical-flavored tunes for virtual vacationers may be just the ticket to getting away when you can’t quite physically get there. An instrumental compilation of popular songs (Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” James Taylor’s “Shower the People,” and Steely Dan’s “Do It Again”) remade to incorporate Latin American and Caribbean rhythms make for a breezy audio retreat.
Calypso (Putumayo World Music)
This sunny island grab bag features 15 artists performing classic Caribbean tunes straight from their home islands of Trinidad, Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti, and others. If the steel drums, upbeat rhythms, strumming guitars, and shakers on these 15 tracks don’t get you in the mood for a tropical-drink-in-hand, toes-in-the-sand, on the Caribbean beach of your choice, then it’s time to book a little trip.
MAYRA CARIDAD VALDES
La Diosa del Mar (Jazzheads Records)
On this collection of Afro-Cuban standards and traditional numbers, the Cuban-born Valdés belts out a sultry selection while fronting a sextet consisting of keyboards, stand-up bass, bongos, and sax. Comparisons to greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn are validated as Valdés tackles Miles Davis’ “Billie’s Bounce” with passion and scats her way through “Mambo Influencio.”
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD
by The German Space Center (Knopf, $40)
A beautiful collection of state-of-the-art photographs, taken from satellites, brings Mother Earth into sharp focus as the living, breathing entity she is. One hundred fifty photographs capture the islands of the Caribbean to the Mississippi Delta to the pyramids at Giza, and more.
OUR READ: AWE-INSPIRING
— RICHELLE THOMSON