Top Picks: The History Here phone app, Missy Higgins' new album, and more
'High Noon' is still powerful on Blu-ray, Julia Child fans celebrate her birthday through PBS, and more top picks.
A playful kind of jazzSkip to next paragraph
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Jazz pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton celebrate 40 years of improvisational musicmaking in their latest release, Hot House. It is hard to know at times where one begins and the other leaves off, so fluid is their collaboration. Opting for obscure standards rather than penning originals, these cerebral musicians infuse complex interludes along with the bright melody of tunes such as Dave Brubeck's "Strange Meadow Lark" or Antonio Jobim's elegant "Once I Loved." Meanwhile, "Mozart Goes Dancing," a Corea original, is downright playful.
History near you
Rediscovering history shouldn't be reserved for vacation days. The History Channel's new History Here phone app digs up destinations near your hometown. The mobile travel guide lists thousands of attractions, each plotted on an interactive map. From the Monitor's headquarters in Boston, the app found the usual Revolution-era hot spots, but also more unexpected locations, such as Babe Ruth's homestead, Home Plate Farm. "Legend has it that Ruth rolled his piano into the pond." Available for iPhone and Windows Phone 7.
Too proud to run
A special anniversary edition of the 1952 western High Noon marks the six decades since the film's release, and the Blu-ray format showcases the movie's crisp black-and-white photography. Gary Cooper is still mesmerizing as the marshal who must do his duty even as his friends turn their backs on him, and the anti-blacklisting message packs a wallop.
Down under singer Back on top
In 2007, Australian pop superstar Missy Higgins quit making music following an existential crisis. But music wouldn't leave her. On Higgins's just-released third album, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle, she joyfully admits, "Melody, you're the only one who saves me." Catchy tunes are her forte. "Unashamed Desire" pivots between deadpan verses and a rhapsodic chorus. "Temporary Love" is an ABBA-style disco stomper. And vocal harmonies converge like a rare planetary alignment during "Hello Hello." Welcome back, Missy.
Humanity in a time of war
Acorn Media, home of the best of British TV, brings The Sinking of the Laconia, an accolade-winning 2010 two-part series with a star-studded cast, to DVD Aug. 7. It is the gripping true story of heroism, heartbreak, and unexpected humanity amid the turmoil of World War II.
Bake a cake for Julia
Julia Child made haute cuisine an affair for anyone to attempt. In celebration of what would have been her 100th birthday on Aug. 15, PBS honors her legacy with a multi-platform initiative on-air, online, and through social media at pbs.org/food. Julia-lovers can cook their own versions of a classic Julia dish and share photographs and blogs on PBS Food and tweet their creations using the hashtag #CookforJulia. The celebration runs Aug. 5-15.