Top Picks: 'MONK’estra, Vol. 1,' WBUR's 'Kind World' podcast, and more

The movie 'Les Cowboys' is a French take on the classic western 'The Searchers,' the 'Forever Country' video is a must for any country music fan, and more top picks.

Quirky monk

Jazz legend Thelonious Monk was one of a kind – witty, offbeat, dissonant, totally unpredictable. Musicians and singers have been attempting to re-create the singular Monk magic for years to little avail. Enter the fearless and talented pianist/arranger John Beasley, who not only takes on Monk’s challenging but rewarding music by doubling up on the quirk, wit, and unpredictability, but orchestrates a 15-piece big band of Los Angeles’s finest jazz musicians to pull it off. MONK’estra, Vol. 1 is, as the man himself might say, a gas.

Upgraded compass

Looking to upgrade the compass on your Apple device? The Compass Zen Pro app not only tells you which direction you’re going but adds features such as a speedometer and altimeter for a little more information on your next hike or other outdoor adventure. The app is currently free for iOS devices.

Hadley Green/WBUR

Life-changing acts

The Kind World podcast from WBUR is sure to make your day a little brighter. The podcast tells stories about people who have been affected in a positive way by others, from an artist who has created portraits of soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq to a man who left food for a homeless man every week and encouraged him to seek aid. Find the podcast at wbur.org/kindworld.

Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

French western

The classic western movie “The Searchers” gets a French take with the film Les Cowboys, which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Oct. 11. François Damiens stars as Alain, whose daughter (Iliana Zabeth) runs away with her paramour, a possible jihadi. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes that the movie “strikes a fresh chord.... [Director Thomas] Bidegain doesn’t underscore the story’s socially conscious aspects; he doesn’t need to.”  

Classic country

To mark the occasion of the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards, the CMA filmed a video titled Forever Country, which features singers from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton performing music including John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” If you’re a country music fan, it’s a must. Check out the video at http://bit.ly/forevercountryvideo

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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