Leon Russell at his best
In this homogenized, auto-tuned, Glee-happy world of pop music, it's nice to see the occasional freak flag proudly flying. Nobody ever unfurled a brighter pennant than 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell (photo). His rollicking, organic sound also inspired early '70s soulmates Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton to career peaks. "The Best of Leon Russell" contains all his hits like "A Song for You," "Delta Lady," "Tight Rope," and "This Masquerade," as well as a track from the recent collaboration with admirer Elton John.
A Swede to the rescue
"Wallenberg: A Hero's Journey," the three-hour TV miniseries (out on DVD April 5), details the daring actions of a World War II Swedish diplomat who managed to save more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death. Richard Chamberlain stars as Raoul Wallenberg, a scion of a wealthy Swedish family who volunteered to execute the daring plan to rescue thousands of Jews in Budapest during the final months of the war.
A stroll in the park – free
America's best idea – the National Parks – will offer free entry from April 16 to 24. To check fee-free days for the whole year, go to www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks
3-D without glasses
That's the promise behind Nintendo's newest video game system, the 3DS. This portable gadget has two screens: a touch-sensitive lower display and a top screen that tricks eyes into seeing depth without any fancy eyewear. Nintendo also baked in a 3-D camera, free augmented-reality games, and a Mii maker that turns photos into personalized avatars. The 3DS cost $250, plus $30 to $40 for extra games.
100 years of American music
"Jazz Roots: The Music of the Americas" (Sony Masterworks) is a two-disc collection tracing the arc of music from African drums to contemporary fusion. The 36 masterworks include "Take Five," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "In the Mood," "Maple Leaf Rag," and many more.
A detective's final tour
Kurt Wallander returns, perhaps for his final curtain in "The Troubled Man." The Swedish detective harbors no dragon tattoos, but his Scandinavian cynicism and dogged dedication to duty make him an interesting, even admirable, character. Henning Mankell has created a protagonist over the course of 10 books who feels true and human despite an atypical propensity for stumbling into prominent crime cases. This time out Wallander grapples with both family and crime, as his daughter's prospective father-in-law disappears amid cold-war-era spying and political intrigue. Give credit to Mankell, who throws off sentimentality in favor of a heartbreaking finale that still leaves the reader guessing beyond the final page.