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The 10 Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, 9/20/13

Life is a cabaret with Tony winner Laura Benanti at 54 Below this weekend
Life is a cabaret with Tony winner Laura Benanti at 54 Below this weekend

For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

Friday, 9/20:

Laura Benanti 54 Below 8pm, Friday & Saturday; 11pm, Friday, $50-$60 She's strutted on Broadway musical stages and nabbed a Tony, she's showing up as a hospital exec on USA's Royal Pains, she was just at the Delacorte Theater for The Tempest, playing a goddess and wearing something she might have worn as Gypsy Rose Lee, and now she's back here doing the cabaret thing. You can bet no one thinks she doesn't sizzle in these surroundings: Todd Almond, who wrote the hot Tempest score and her hot-hot-hot number, is the musical director and arranger. -- By David Finkle

Patti Smith The Metropolitan Museum of Art 7pm, $40 Patti Smith is a poet and a dreamer, but she's most importantly a punk rock priestess who likes to remind you whose sins Jesus didn't die for. This fall, Patti returns to the Met after last year's personalized tribute to Andy Warhol, who was the hero of her close friend, the late Robert Mapplethorpe. This year's show is dedicated to an artist of a different era, with Patti paying tribute to Hildegard de Bingen, a German composer, philosopher, writer and much more. Much like the Warhol show, the Met's audience may get a taste of Patti showing appreciation for some of her favorite musicians in the form of her unique covers that always fit seamlessly into a set of her beautiful and mystifying originals. -- By Brittany Spanos

Ahmad Jamal Jazz at Lincoln Center, Time Warner Center, Rose Theater 8pm, Friday & Saturday, $28.50-$125 Ask Pete Rock about Ahmad Jamal. He might tell you that chords tumble out of Jamal's piano like water falling over a series of rocks--with total ease, to devastating effect. It is from this chordal cascade that Rock sculpted the soundscape to Nas's immortal "The World Is Yours," sampling Jamal's pristine "I Love Music." Jamal is a noted jazz minimalist, letting the spaces left in-between his tasteful notes speak for themselves, and in this way, his music emphasizes all the forced silences of slavery and displacement that rest at the heart of the African-American cultural tradition. Jazz occupies a privileged position as the art music of that tradition, and no jazz pianist represents the restrained elegance of the African-American struggle for expression better than Jamal. Perhaps this is why he has been able to enter his eighth decade, both as a human being and a pianist, with the same focus and vision that saw him erupt on the scene with 1958's Live At The Pershing. His 2012 release Blue Moon shows that the world is still his. -- By Winston Groman

The Pretty Reckless The Paramount 8pm, $19.50-$58.50 Almost a century ago, the blues was being cast as the Devil's music, and now the Pretty Reckless are trying to approximate that kind of hysteria with the bluesy hard rock of their latest LP, Going to Hell. To bolster that theory, frontwoman and provocateur Taylor Momsen (former child actress in The Grinch and Gossip Girl) has long had a penchant for wearing T-shirts sporting slogans like "I fuck for Satan," and in an album teaser she even proclaims, "Don't bless me father, for I have sinned." It would all seem a bit corny if the songs weren't actually good. -- By Kory Grow

Fred Frith's 'Gravity' Roulette Brooklyn 8pm, $30 The experimental guitarist revisits his second solo album after leaving important British avant-rock group Henry Cow. Recorded in New York and released in 1979 on the Residents' Ralph label, Gravity mixed avant-garde tropes with merry melodies and holds up far better than you might expect. Frith will lead an 11-piece group through its myriad quirks and delights. With Dominique Leone Band. -- By Richard Gehr  

Catch Afrojack at MCU park on Sunday evening
Catch Afrojack at MCU park on Sunday evening

Saturday, 9/21:

Nellie McKay Drom 7pm, $30-$35 This uke-slinging, piano-swinging avenger of the oppressed has never sounded better: Expect nuggets from throughout McKay's remarkable oeuvre, which includes her Rachel Carson tribute "Silent Spring--It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature," subversive political-pop parfaits (if you haven't seen her taste-challenging "Caribbean Time" video, do so now), and random bursts of classic Americana from Dave Frishberg, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Neil Young, and Charles Mingus. -- By Richard Gehr

Sunday, 9/22:

Anna Nicole BAM, Peter Jay Sharp Building 8pm, $25-$175 When she died at the age of 39 from an accidental overdose, Anna Nicole Smith, whose career included stints as a stripper, a Playmate, a model, an actress, a reality-show celebrity, and Trimspa spokesperson, was the mother of a baby daughter, the widow of a nonagenarian billionaire, and easy prey for the tabloids. Now her bizarre rise to fame and tragic end is the subject of the opera Anna Nicole by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas (co-creator of Jerry Springer: The Opera), which premiered in 2011 at the Royal Opera House in London. -- By Angela Ashman

Afrojack MCU Park 6pm, $50-$75 According to Forbes, Afrojack ranks No. 7 among the highest paid DJs in the world, and tonight the Dutch 26 year-old will defend his spot by charging prices as big as his beats. The good news, though, is he's booked for five hours with no apparent openers, which will give him plenty of time to stretch out tracks like the Eva Simons-sung "Take Over Control," and the hit he helped craft for Pitbull, "Give Me Everything," as well as more remixes than a baseball stadium can likely handle. -- By Kory Grow

Evan Parker The Stone 8pm & 10pm, Friday - Sunday, $10 The whirlwind British saxophonist has dazzled jazz's freedom contingent for decades now, his virtuosity making abstraction seem like an utterly natural language and the physical impact of his lines creating a cyclone of sparks. This five-night run puts in touch with some of NYC's more intrepid improvisers, such as Ned Rothenberg, Sylvie Courvoisier and Milford Graves. Perhaps the most intriguing session will be his evening with John Escreet, John Hebért, and Tyshawn Sorey--the first set finds them working in duos, and in the second they connect as a quartet. -- By Jim Macnie

Lee 'Scratch' Perry & Subatomic Sound System Le Poisson Rouge 10:30pm, $23/$28 When the Voice interviewed Lee "Scratch" Perry in advance of his appearance at last year's Dub Champions Festival, the dub forefather and possible madman told us he'd been in the studio "killing some songs with murder." Now he's returning for another round of the festival, we're assuming, with reincarnated songs (unless he didn't totally kill them all) that show off his unique and echoey approach to reggae. Joining him this year is the L.A.-based EDM producer Deadelus and the dubby melodica player Addis Pablo. -- By Kory Grow

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Related Locations

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54 Below

254 W. 54th St.
New York, NY 10019

866-468-7916

www.54below.com

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10028

212-535-7710

www.metmuseum.org

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Jazz at Lincoln Center, Time Warner Center, Rose Theater

60th St. & Broadway
New York, NY 10023

212-258-9800

www.jalc.org

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The Paramount

370 New York Ave.
Huntington, NY 11743

631-673-7300

paramountny.com

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Roulette Brooklyn

509 Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

917-267-0363

www.roulette.org

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Drom

85 Ave. A
New York, NY 10009

212-777-1157

www.dromnyc.com

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MCU Park
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BAM Café

30 Lafayette Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

718-623-7811

www.bam.org

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The Stone
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Le Poisson Rouge

158 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012

212-505-3474

www.lepoissonrouge.com


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