Top picks: A celebration of Mexican music, tour exotic homes, 'Entre Nos' DVD, and more recommendations

'Mi Alma Mexicana' CD celebrates Mexico, Architectural Digest steps into the exotic in its August issue, Paola Mendoza's film 'Entre Nos' comes out on DVD, and more top picks.

Architectural Digest
Alondra de la Parra's debut recording features Enrico Chapela, Eugenio Toussaint, Ricardo Castro, and Mario Lavista.
Based on Paola Mendoza's mother's own experience, 'Entre Nos' tells the tale of a immigrant mother and her two young children in New York.

Celebrating Mexico

In honor of the Mexican bicentennial, conductor Alondra de la Parra releases her debut recording Aug. 2, "Mi Alma Mexicana" ("My Mexican Soul"), a two-CD set celebrating 200 years of Mexican classical music. This lush evocation of the rhythms and melodies of her native land features the world première recordings of Enrico Chapela's "Ínguesu" and Eugenio Toussaint's "Concierto para Piano" with Alex Brown as piano soloist, as well as music by Ricardo Castro, Carlos Chavez, Candelario Huízar, Federico Ibarra, and Mario Lavista.

Zen guitarist

Minneapolis-based guitarist Steve Tibbetts returns to ECM Records after eight years with a new meditative masterpiece, "Natural Causes." Accompanied by longtime collaborator Marc Anderson on percussion and gongs, Tibbetts weaves a subtly beautiful tapestry of meandering melodies that reflect his extensive travels and studies in Asia. While the predominant instrumental voice is acoustic 12-string guitar, the sonic palette is enhanced with touches of piano, kalimba, gongs, and digital atmospherics. Lovely.

Far-flung retreats

Architectural Digest's August issue on "Exotic Homes" steps into city houses and beach retreats in Turkey, Mexico, Kenya, and Israel among others, where the rich local history and lush environment are drawn upon for unique beauty and design. A taste of the possible.

Blowup art

In "1945-1998," artist Isao Hashimoto has created a visual and musical rendering of the thousands of nuclear tests that took place across the globe during those years. It's a way to communicate "the fear and folly of nuclear weapons," he says.

Back in the Bayou

Dave Robicheaux returns in "The Glass Rainbow" (Simon & Schuster, $24.99), the 18th installment in James Lee Burke's long-running Louisiana mystery series. Back in New Iberia after a brief Montana hiatus, Robicheaux faces trouble all around. His adopted daughter falls in with bad characters who may or may not be connected to serial killings in a nearby parish. Tortured pal and detective Clete Purcel battles booze and violent urges, while ex-cons and corrupt souls torment Robicheaux's beloved bayou. Burke does world-weary reflection with ease and successfully defies Elmore Leonard's advice to never write about weather. And he never lets the reader forget the tropical, languid, rain-washed backdrop. As for the crime in Iberia Parish, it's up to Dave Robicheaux to wash that away.

American dreamers

A newly arrived immigrant mother and two children find themselves destitute in New York when the father abandons them. "Entre Nos," an award-winning film by Paola Mendoza, which mirrors her own mother's experience, has an authenticity and charm that leaves a surprising sense of uplift. Newly out on DVD from IndiePix.

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