CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs

Two years after their wildly successful debut, Elida y Avante bounce back from label troubles with Algo Entero (Tejas). For my money, Mercedes-born Elida Reyna is tejano’s next female superstar. Her husky, throbbing voice is mature well beyond her 24 years—she has the archetypal blend of innocence and experience—and her band plays a richly textured “chamber tejano” (often featuring salsa percussion) that swings effortlessly and retains undeniable pop flair. Together, they’re all presence, with the polkas and up-tempo tunes sizzling out of the grooves and ballads like the title song conveying complete immediacy and intimacy.…Fans who know Houstonian Illinois Jacquet only for the way his warm, muscular tenor screams out of big-band arrangements like Lionel Hampton’s “Flying Home” will be pleasantly surprised by The Complete Illinois Jacquet Sessions, 1945—50 (Mosaic). Leading “little big bands” that mixed veterans like Emmett Berry with up-and-comers like Charles Mingus and Miles Davis—and often took swing to the verge of bop—Jacquet shows himself to be a tenor for all seasons; he’s especially masterful on ballads, whether slow blues (“Throw It Out of Your Mind, Baby”) or standards (“She’s Funny That Way”). John Morthland

If there really is a future in poetry slams, then Wammo’s Fat Headed Stranger (Mouth Almighty/Mercury) is a portent of what’s to come. The onetime Austin club disc jockey, whose fifteen minutes could have been up when New Wave died, has reinvented himself as a rhythmic rapper. The style is loud and garrulous in a mock-redneck way—Bubba with passion—but the substance has an engagingly alternative skew: There are recollections of life as a kid (“Homage to the Ramones”), vicarious cheap thrills (“Put Your Hands Against the Car”), and even the odd obtuse anthem (“Charles Bukowski’s Dead”). Joe Nick Patoski

Hot Books

You’ll always find a few turkeys among publishers’ November releases, but others merit thanksgiving. In Bordersnakes (Mysterious Press, $22), Montana mystery novelist James Crumley spins a bloody tale of just deserts in the West Texas desert; his two main characters are downright scary—and they’re the good guys. By comparison, Doug Swanson , a Dallas Morning News reporter, is soft-boiled; in 96 Tears (HarperCollins, $22.50), he delivers an entertaining take on tawdry Dallas lowlifes. More-literary readers can reach for Fishing the Sloe-Black River (Metropolitan Books, $22), by Dubliner-turned—New Yorker Colum McCann . Gray humor and burnished prose distinguish the dozen short stories, notably “Through the Field,” a grim and regionally flawless vignette drawn from McCann’s Texas stint as a counselor for troubled youths. Anne Dingus

From the vintage cover photo of Port Arthur’s Gene Terry decked out in some cool threads to the scholarly explanation of how and why “Mathilda” by Cookie and the Cupcakes set the standard for later pop ballads, Shane Bernard ’s Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues (University of Mississippi Press, $17) underscores the significance of the Gulf Coast sound as a defining style of sentimental rock. Joe Nick Patoski

Hot Statue

Creating a historical bronze is something of a tall order, but that’s what El Pasoan John Houser has done. On September 26, Houser’s 14-foot, $200,000 likeness of Fray Garc ía de San Francisco , the seventeenth-century Franciscan who founded El Paso and Juárez in 1659, was unveiled in El Paso’s Pioneer Plaza. It’s the first of a dozen works in the “XII Travelers” series, a public art project commemorating the history of the Pass of the North, and the next installment should be an even bigger deal: Houser is now working on a 21-foot, $500,000 tribute to Don Juan de Oñate, whose expedition celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving, in El Paso in April 1598. Eric O’Keefe

Hot Society Read

It may look like W, the jet-setters’ fashion and personality rag published out of New York, but The Paper is by, for, and about Houston. The bimonthly arbiter of taste and trends was strictly advertising driven until September, when it began publishing real stories, and this month it will answer several absolutely crucial questions: Where should I vacation? (San Miguel de Allende.) Where should I eat? (Fiamma.) And how do I throw a swinging cocktail party? (Serve Manhattans.) The Paper ’s co-owners, the husband-and-wife team of editor Holly Moore and publisher Jim Kastleman, hope to take it monthly in March and may branch out to another city. How soon? “Not for a year,” Moore insists. And then? “Well, maybe Chicago.” Patricia Sharpe

Hot Thespian

Last year Andrew Lloyd Webber made a Broadway star of Fort Worth’s Betty Buckley in Sunset Boulevar d; now he hopes to do the same for Plainview’s Abbi Hutcherson . Webber has cast the eleven-year-old as Brat, one of three children who mistake an escaped murderer for Jesus Christ, in his new musical, Whistle Down the Wind, which opens at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., on December 13 and in New York April 17. Hutcherson has been in the spotlight before—she’s sung the National Anthem at nearly every sporting event in Texas, and she’s done her share of commercials—but this is her career-making moment: Already she’s been invited to audition for the Macauley Culkin—less Home Alone 3. Nicki Bruce Logan

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