JJ. Andre. Jorge. They've put together a "Latin" sound all their own, a slinky-violined, smoothly percussioned, poply tropical sound that sets them apart from the rest. And though the world knows them through their two outstanding CDs (the last, Caraluna, got them serious airtime) and tours, only Miami can call them "local." And how much more Miami can you get than this sound made by Jorge Villamizar from Colombia, André Lopes from Brazil, and José Javier Freire from Puerto Rico, who hooked up at the University of Miami. The trio is currently red hot, and we call them the best Latin band.

With the ever-evolving form of rock, it's not a stretch to say a band that combines hard guitar with house beats and rap lyrics falls into this category. This band's not afraid to try that mix of hip-hop and drum and bass and then kick in a few guitar riffs to back it up. The new technology age is here, and this band fits right in. To top it off, the members sing in Miami Spanglish and blend four nationalities, not including their parents'.

Readers Choice: The Voz

They aren't from Miami. They hail from Fort Lauderdale. And they may not be innovative, plying a brand of sleazy garage punk (à la the Queers circa Grow Up) that's been bandied about for years. But it doesn't matter. The Heatseekers have that elusive quality, that totally unquantifiable rock and roll thing that moves audiences and propels their songs along like a drunk in a '57 Chevy, careening between the highway guardrails. They go down like bourbon and make you want to fuck or fight or both. Josh Menendez, garage-rock DJ and the driving force behind the mod-themed weekly party Revolver, says the Heatseekers always get the crowd going. "They have a lot of energy and a great stage presence. Definitely one of the best shows in town."

Readers Choice: dear starlet

The recent passing of legendary producer Tom Dowd returned the Hit Factory Criteria to the media spotlight, reminding us all that the North Miami studio was the creative birthing spot for so many seminal albums, from Derek and the Dominos' 1970 Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs to the Bee Gees' 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to Bob Dylan's 1997 aesthetic return-to-form comeback Time Out of Mind. Yet what often gets overlooked is the appeal of the studio itself. Indeed it wasn't just Dowd's own production techniques that had drawn a musical who's who to work with him here. As important as the sounds being laid down on any session is the equipment being used to capture it -- and this studio's analog-style mixing boards, vintage microphones, and sumptuous wooden acoustics have artists from Christina Aguilera to DMX catching flights into Miami when it comes time to record. Accordingly, studio time at the Hit Factory Criteria is pricey, and a few weeks' worth of work can easily produce a hefty six-figure bill; this isn't the spot to cut your garage band's demo. But if you're on a major-label budget, the dizzyingly infatuated look engineers take on when gabbing about the equipment at hand seems justification enough for running up that tab.

Frank Consola is the hardest-working man in Miami radio. At least nonprofit radio. He's on the air twenty hours a week at community-supported WDNA-FM, Miami's "jazz and rhythm station." Monday through Friday Consola is at the console hosting 88 Jazz Place from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. He does this as a volunteer -- without pay. How's that for dedication? The Brooklyn-born Consola has been pitching in at the station since the late Eighties. How's that for commitment? The show itself is an eclectic mix of jazz styles, varying from day to day. One highlight is the "Top Ten at 10," a Wednesday feature at 10:00 a.m. in which he counts down the week's top-selling jazz albums.

January 2002 saw Miami's only full-time classical station, WTMI (93.1 FM), convert to modern dance music. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and for a time the occasional hour of classical programming on public radio was the only place to get a taste of Brahms. In September 2002, however, WKAT switched from Spanish-language radio to 24-hour classical programming, including one hour reserved for playing symphonic works in their entirety without interruptions. "It's ballsy of them to run something without commercials, considering that they're a commercial radio station," says host Matt Gitkin, a University of Miami theater professor who also hosts WKAT's The Open Road, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Gitkin got the gig because he could "pronounce the composers' names and the names of the pieces" and says that for his first few months on the air he had constant phone calls from grateful music fans. "People really missed having something like this on the air -- especially something like Symphony at Seven, where you might get a 36-minute piece with no breaks."

If you can get past the self-conscious college-kid precociousness of the VUM DJs, Wednesday night features two rock programs worth listening to. First up: From 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. distort your speakers with the mono stylings of It Came From the Garage. This fuzzed-out blast of garage rock is unabashedly primitive, and beats the hell out of the latest Puddle of Mudd, or whatever passes for hard rock on FM radio these days. By 10:00 p.m., listeners have been loosened up by the garage rock and maybe a few drinks, so VUM drops all pretense of punker-than-thou coolness and indulges in straight-up big hair riffs with Metal Revolution. The program, on the air until 1:00 a.m., is perfect for those who still secretly love harmonized twin guitar solos and the rumble of double-bass drums, and for those who never hung up the jean jacket with the skull and crossbones patch on the back.

Cuba's controversial comedian Alvarez Guedes takes the lunchtime air weekdays to mix dirty jokes, political discourse, and poetry with some of the best Cuban music from the golden age of the big band. The whiskey-voiced Guedes comes across as everyone's favorite foul-mouthed uncle as he spoofs local politics and happenings with his daily Guantanameras and timba jams. Classic salsa from the likes of La Sonora Matancera is played alongside bossa nova, guaguancós, and boleros. Guedes even throws in occasional Frank Sinatra classics. His wit and fine selection of music is the perfect combination for a midday refreshment of the senses.

Whether it's twenty-year veteran Clint O'Neil or DJ Ital-K spinning discs on this late-night gem, reggae lovers are bound to be sated with the best variety of dancehall, soca, calypso, and roots music in Miami. Deep rhythms keep you whining, free of commercials. The knowledgeable Godfather and Englishman, as they are respectively known, inform listeners with their deep musical wisdom. They kick off the show with the coolest theme song on the radio: an extended mix of Steel Pulse's classic, "Steppin' Out." (Night Train's brassy stripper theme comes a close second.) O'Neil can be heard Tuesdays through Saturdays beginning at 1:00 a.m., and Ital-K takes over on Sundays and Mondays.

CASA TUA 1700 James Avenue Miami Beach 305-673-1010

In the few months it's been operating, Casa Tua in Miami Beach has cultivated a mystique that has made a weekend dinner reservation the most sought-after ticket in town. The understated refinement of its home (a former private residence) and the sophisticated cuisine created by executive chef Sergio Sigala have combined to form a truly elegant dining experience. As New Times critic Lee Klein put it: "Diners feel as though they're in the home of a good friend -- a very wealthy friend with exquisite taste, that is." Sigala, a 34-year-old native of Brescia, Italy, has enjoyed a richly peripatetic career that began in Italy then skipped to England, Switzerland, Bahrain, Canada, France, back to Italy, and finally to Miami Beach. When he's not in the kitchen at Casa Tua, he's likely to be biking through rural South Miami-Dade or diving the reefs off the Keys.

BEST PLACE FOR FRESH FRUIT

Lincoln Road on Sunday.

BEST PLACE FOR FRESH VEGETABLES

Paradise Farm in Homestead and Totally Tomatoes in Davie. They provide me with the best fresh organic products, like different kinds of tomatoes, micro salad, carrots, et cetera.

BEST NATURAL HIGH

I love riding my bicycle early in the morning down to Homestead, passing through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables under the trees. The sensation is like being in the forests of my hometown.

BEST REASON TO LIVE IN MIAMI

There are different good reasons to live in Miami. I like the interaction between different cultures -- the influence and the traditions that came from South America and the modernity from North America. I also love diving and the Miami area offers a great many different reefs.

Recipe

CASA TUA TUNA TARTARE

1 pound tuna, sushi quality

1 tablespoon salted capers from Sicily

2 tablespoons taggiasca olives from Liguria

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (chopped)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Fleur de Sel (unrefined French sea salt)

Chop tuna, wash the capers in water, cut the sun-dried tomatoes and olives into small cubes the same size. Mix all ingredients, season with extra virgin olive oil and Fleur de Sel. Serve with crispy bruschetta.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®