Monday, September 23, 2013

Pink Martini at Indochine

China Forbes and Storm Large front Pink Martini
Thomas Lauderdale worked in politics during the early 1990s in his native Portland, Oregon, and was contemplating his own mayoral run. Attending political fundraisers frequently, he grieved that the music played at these events was so underwhelming. A pianist at heart, he responded in 1994 by forming Pink Martini, the “little orchestra” which was willing to provide a musical soundtrack for any good cause. Lauderdale recruited an old friend China Forbes to collaborate on songwriting in 1995, and then added Storm Large in 2010; both today share the band’s primary vocal duties. Pink Martini now performs on concert stages and with symphony orchestras around the world. The band’s seventh studio album, Get Happy, will be released tomorrow.

Last night Pink Martini headlined the Beacon Theater, but tonight Pink Martini performed for their friends and supporters during a private party at the much smaller Indochine restaurant. Party was the operative word, as several of the band’s friends, including National Public Radio’s White House correspondent Ari Shapiro, were invited onstage throughout the 90-minute set to sing with the 12-piece orchestra. Forbes and Large, the principle vocalists, were commanding, however, with dresses and moves reminiscent of sultry 1940s barroom divas, as the serendipitous violin, sparkling trumpet and joy-filled percussion drove home the party atmosphere. Pink Martini uniquely fused well-orchestrated musicianship and songs from around the world, ranging in style from swing jazz tunes and Latin dance grooves to easy listening pop, all served with class and glamour. While most of the songs were in English, I lost count of how many songs were in Spanish, French, German and other languages. The night ended with the audience forming a conga line and parading through the restaurant. It does not get better than that.

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