Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson have had an extraordinary 40-some-year run as acclaimed songwriters, performers, producers, and club operators (New York's Sugar Bar). While continuing to work on a forthcoming Broadway musical, the couple have also hit the road with what's essentially a dynamic greatest-hits show that promises to be no less than electrifying in the relatively cozy confines of the Dakota. That's certainly the way the pair and their taut, exuberant band come across on Ashford & Simpson's new CD, The Real Thing (Burgundy/Sony). Recorded live at the intimate New York club Feinstein's, the album finds fireworks flying among Nick's soaring falsetto, Val's lustrous, soulful pipes, the sizzling band, and the enthused crowd as they negotiate hits from the breadth of their career (as staff writers for Scepter and Motown, and later as recording artists in their own right). Highlights include Nick channeling Ray Charles on "Let's Go Get Stoned," Val's getting down and sassy on the Chaka Khan hit "I'm Every Woman," and the soaring "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." The hits should come fast and furious, driven by a band featuring Sugar Bar stalwarts Bernard Davis (drums) and Sherrod Barnes (lead guitar), and led by pianist Nat Adderley Jr. of the famed Adderley musical dynasty. $60 at 7 p.m.; $45 at 9:30 p.m.
Fridays, Saturdays. Starts: Feb. 20. Continues through Feb. 21, 2009