Havana Dreams (Sony Classical)
Good luck trying to sit still while listening to this collection of 1940s and ’50s Cuban big-band songs. Backed by some of the finest “new generation” jazz players, the Spanish- and English-singing Santana heats up 15 songs with horns, percussion, pumping rhythms, and plenty of energy in this U.S. debut.
oh! from the Girls (Nettwerk)
Some of the greatest female singers (Sarah McLachlan, Chrissie Hynde, Macy Gray, Dido, Aimee Mann) are compiled on this 15-track disc that features familiar tunes, live performances, and previously unreleased numbers. The best part: All of the proceeds go to Oh! Get the Money, a nonprofit organization that raises money for women interested in starting businesses. So you get the tunes, and others get a business off the ground.
BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS
Crimes of Passion (Big/Sanctuary)
To record half the songs on their sixth album, this Colorado-based trio holed up in Yampa Valley at Flat Tops Wilderness Studio — which also doubles as guitarist/singer/frontman Todd Park Mohr’s home. The follow-up to 2002’s Riviera packs plenty of enjoyable jams and rock numbers with Mohr’s signature solos, setting the stage for another round of tour dates, which are sure to follow.
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD