Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Lyrical jazz from Bobo Stenson, a free download from Dido, a new website for snagging cheap plane tickets, and more.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Courtesy of Bobo Stenson Trio
EPA/Patrick B. Kraemer

shimmering, Lyrical Jazz

Swedish jazz pianist Bobo Stenson has long been more revered in Europe than in North America, but Cantando might finally bring world acclaim. With longtime bassist Anders Jormin and new drummer Jon Falt, Stenson improvises over a tango, a bit of Afro-jazz, a Cuban folk song, and a heartbreakingly elegaic "Song of Ruth" by Czech composer Petr Eben, performed twice to bookend the album. A crystalline, shimmering, improvisatory atmosphere informs every moment of this lyrical achievement.

Gets our vote

You might think voting would be the least contested part of an election. But Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a new documentary by Dorothy Fadimen, offers a refresher course in electoral fraud. It has a long history. And the paperless electronic voting machine is not improving public confidence in counting accuracy. This persuasive if slightly left-leaning look at what's at stake will make you yearn for paper ballots. (Available at

Phelps suits up for a saturday night laugh

Keen to capitalize on presidential politics, not to mention the heroes of the Olympics, Saturday Night Live gets off to an early start this year. Tomorrow night at 11:30 p.m., swim-star host Michael Phelps ushers in a new season of comedy. Says NBC entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman, "We're really excited to tap into all of the comedy fodder hopefully coming out of the conventions."

frigg's singing strings

We couldn't keep our feet from tapping along to Frigg's new CD release, Economy Class. Think Finnish and Norwegian acoustics blended with American bluegrass and Celtic folk into a familiar yet fresh sound. The talent of this string band is no surprise – three members hail from Finland's most famous fiddle family and two others from a Norwegian fiddle clan. Violins, guitar, dobro, mandolin, and double bass harmonize to deliver an energetic, uplifting sound that makes great listening for the drive home ... unless your foot happens to be on the accelerator.

Dido opens her 'home'

It's been five years since Dido, creator of the adult pop songs "Here with Me" and "Thank You," raised her "White Flag." Since that hit, the British singer has been quietly working on a new album, "Safe Trip Home," due November. As a taster, she's offering the piano ballad Look No Further as a free download at Welcome back.

Cheap seats

Air travel may be astronomical, but you can still snag a deal by letting do the digging for you. This Denmark-based aggregator whips through hundreds of sites, including travel portals such as Expedia and travelocity, and low cost airlines all over the globe, to unearth bargains.

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