This Week's Best Shows and a Spotify Playlist of the Bands

By Daniel Jumpertz on May 22, 2014 7:33am 

Slideshow
 Sufjan Stevens will play for the New York City Ballet this week.
Gigs - Thursday, May 22, 2014
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Thursday, May 22

New York City Ballet has commissioned indie music darling Sufjan Stevens to compose for their new production, “Everywhere We Go.” It is the second ballet collaboration between Stevens and New York City Ballet’s 26-year-old rising star choreographer Justin Peck — their first being 2012’s surprise hit “Year of the Rabbit.

"Ballet is like proof of the existence of God, whereas my art is proof of the existence of me. It made me understand how selfish and boring it can be to make art that is all about yourself," Stevens said in an interview with The New York Times.

Tonight’s program also features two ballets by George Balanchine. From 7:30 p.m at the David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Circle. $59/$89. 

Friday, May 23

With a voice that echoes the world-weary timbre of Willie Nelson, Bill Kirchen is best known for his gritty, R&B-infused country rock with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen during the early '70s. Known as "The Titan of The Telecaster," Kirchen has collaborated with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Gene Vincent, and Link Wray while consistently producing excellent albums, most recently 2013’s “Seeds And Stems.” Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. at Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette St., NoHo.

Saturday, May 24

Havoc and Prodigy, the duo that make up Mobb Deep, delayed the creation of their new album “The Infamous Mobb Deep” because of a feud in 2012. "At the end of the day,” Prodigy said in an interview with Hiphopdx.com, “the music is the most important thing."

The album is an attempt to capture their gritty New York sound with Prodigy described as "a dark, sinister-type of sound...everything that we're saying is going on right now. Each album is like...a time capsule of that time period. So now in 2014, you’re gonna hear what we’re going through in our lyrics, what's going through our head as grown men." 8 p.m. Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, East 15th St. and Irving Place, Union Square. $33. 

Daniel Pujol’s driving DIY rock 'n' roll has found a home at some of America’s finest record labels: Jack White’s Third Man Records, Nashville's Infinity Cat RecordingsTurbo Time Records and most recently Omaha's Saddle Creek, who released his 2012 album “United States Of Being” and 2014’s “Kludge.” Check him out at 2 p.m. at Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. Ninth St., Williamsburg, Free. Pujol is also playing a late show tonight — 10:30 p.m. at the Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston St., Lower East Side. $12. 

Sunday, May 25

Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet explores Africa’s vast rhythmic heritage in a way few jazz artists have ever attempted. Tonight the Quintet play the final two shows of a 10-show residency at the Jazz Standard. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. 116 East 27th St, Gramercy. $25. 

Monday, May 26

Blues and roots giant Taj Mahal, born Henry St. Clair Fredericks, released his first album in 1968 and most recently appeared on the album “Divided & United,” a compilation album of American Civil War music. Although this is a solo, sit-down gig, don’t be surprised if you get the urge to dance. In an interview with straight.com, Taj Mahal said “The music was designed for people to move, and it's a bit difficult after a while to have people sitting like they're watching television. 

"I just play to the goddess of music — and I know she's dancing." 8 p.m., City Winery, 155 Varick St, Tribeca. $60/$70. 

Tuesday, May 27

Phosphorescent's 2013 “Muchacho" album — described by Clash Music as “a beautiful outing in hauntingly pastoral heartbreak” — was written by Matthew Houck in Brooklyn and Mexico after his 18-month tour for 2010's full length album, “Here's To Taking It Easy.”

“Muchacho" topped 2013 year-end lists at American Songwriter and Stereogum, and garnered the No. 1 spot in Paste Magazine. 8 p.m., Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St, East Village. Although sold out, tickets are available in the $40 to $50 range on Stubhub.

Wednesday, May 28

The New York Philharmonic launches its inaugural NY Phil Biennial today. It's an 11-day festival of exciting new music from around the world. Tonight the Gotham Chamber Opera presents the U.S. Premiere of Toshio Hosokawa's opera based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." Tickets are very expensive tonight (minimum of $500), though seats are available in the $30 to $175 range for Friday, May 30 (show at 8 p.m.). Gerald W. Lynch Theater, at John Jay College, 524 W. 59th St., Columbus Circle. For the full NY Phil Biennial program and info on the Biennial Pass, which gets you into all 21 biennial performances for only $95, head to their website

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