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Hello, Dorothy!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dorothy Fields wrote the words to more than 400 songs, including "The Way You Look Tonight" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." But she wasn't just a prolific lyricist - she was a trailblazer who opened doors for women in show business. Today on Soundcheck: Author Charlotte Greenspan tells us about the life of this Hollywood pioneer and the image, at left, that inspired her. Plus, a conversation with the Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.


Charlotte Greenspan and Bryn Terfel

Fields of Song

Lyricist Dorothy Fields wrote the words to hundreds of songs, including "Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now." She collaborated with Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and paved the way for women in her profession. Musicologist and author Charlotte Greenspan joins us today to shed light on the life of Dorothy Fields.

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Picks of the Week

Glasser – Ring (True Panther Sounds)


As The Met kicked off its 2010 season with a massive, complicated production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, another “Ring” quietly made its own debut. Clocking in at just under 38 minutes, this Ring is the first full length album from post-pop chanteuse Cameron Mesirow, a.k.a. Glasser. The album is full of lush string arrangements and gritty electronic drums, but the outstanding instrument here is Mesirow’s voice. The second song of the record, originally released as a single, is called Home. Handclaps and cascading marimba provide a bed for the word home as she hiccups and stretches it until the word loses itself to pure sound. A ring is a continuous shape where there is no beginning and no end. Put this album on repeat, and the last track, Clamour, just may point you back to the beginning. "Ring" is the gleaming debut album from Glasser.

Gidon Kremer – De Profundis (Nonesuch Records)

In the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union, violinist Gidon Kremer celebrated the independence of his native Latvia and the other Baltic republics by forming the Kremerata Baltica, a chamber orchestra that reflects his wide-ranging interests, from Bach to modern composers like this one, Estonia’s Arvo Pärt. Kremer’s new album with his band is called De Profundis, and is full of works that in some way echo the cry of Psalm 130 – “de profundis” or “out of the depths” I cry to you.  Kremer describes the album as a collection of artists crying out for a better world.  He’s made some eccentric choices though… like English composer Michael Nyman’s “Trysting Fields,” originally from the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway’s “Drowning By Numbers.” De Profundis is about profound emotions, writes Gidon Kremer.  But the album is by no means a heavy affair.  Works like this one, from Kremer’s Latvian countryman Georgs Pelecis, has a serene, almost Zen-like atmosphere. 



Bryn Terfel: "Bad Boy" of Opera

The Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is known as one of the most genial people in the opera world but you might not know it from his recent roles. He recently led the opening of the Metropolitan Opera's new season singing Wotan, the king of gods, in the premiere of the company's new staging of the complete Wagner Ring cycle. And recently, he released an album paying tribute to the "bad boys" of opera. Terfel joins us to discuss his unusually wide-ranging season.

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The Great American Songbook's Secret Weapon

After yesterday's debacle, John Schaefer says, "now THIS is a lyric."

A.A. Bondy performs at Bowery Ballroom tonight.

Gig Alert: A.A. Bondy

A.A. Bondy makes simple folk songs that conjure up a mythical America of empty roads and broken hearts. Download his "I Can See the Pines Are Dancing" here.


Davell Crawford

Gig Alert: Davell Crawford

New Orleans piano great Davell Crawford plays the Jazz Standard tonight. Download his ballad "Strange Fruit" here.


!!! (chk, chk, chk)

Gig Alert: !!!

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Patrons of the 27 de Febrero restaurant come to hear the city's best in live bachata and merengue.

Dominican Bachata Founder Spices Up Tiny Washington Heights Restaurant, Every Friday Night

Edilio Paredes, one of bachata's founding fathers, has been getting 27 de Febrero diners dancing for 17 years. Check out WNYC's video of the scene at the restaurant and download a fre...