When a brand-new album is described as “straight ahead” – especially in jazz – we say, “lead the way!” Pianist Sullivan Fortner’s debut Aria, reminiscent of the best of old-school piano jazz, swings and delights. A savvy mix of originals and surprising standards, propelled deftly along by drums, bass, and soprano sax, makes for a sterling debut that is at once timeless and new.
King of the blues
Musician B.B. King became one of the most famous blues artists of all time. The “American Masters” special B.B. King: The Life of Riley explores his life from his childhood during segregation to his stature in the music industry. The special includes interviews with King, who died in 2015, as well as other artists inspired by his talent. “B.B. King: The Life of Riley” airs on PBS on Feb. 12 at 9 p.m.
The New York Times has teamed up with WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, to create Modern Love: The Podcast. The weekly series, based on the Times’s popular “Modern Love” column, explores real-life stories of surprise, loss, and treasures of the heart. Broadway actress Lauren Molina and Jason Alexander bring dramatic flair to the first couple of episodes. Posted each Thursday, the episodes are available at WBUR.org, NYTimes.com, and on iTunes.
Generation X explained
What place do the members of Generation X have in our world today? The new six-part National Geographic Channel series Generation X looks at how the Vietnam War, Watergate, the AIDS health crisis, and even the movie “Reality Bites” shaped the generation born between 1961 and 1981. The program premières Feb. 14 at 10 p.m. Check local listings. (Viewers should be aware that it includes some adult language.)
Cat and mouse
Trying to catch up on Oscar nominees before the big night? Bridge of Spies, the newest film from Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, has been nominated for best picture, and Mark Rylance has been nominated for best supporting actor. The movie, based on the 1960 U-2 incident during the cold war, tells the story of an American lawyer who becomes involved in a Soviet prisoner exchange. It’s now available on DVD and Blu-ray.