When I listen to Pink Martini, I often feel that I should either be sipping a martini in a dark and cool lounge, or else drinking delicious, hot cAdd Mediaoffee outside a café in Paris on a summer day. The band’s world vibe—with lyrics in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Turkish, Greek, the list goes on—and groovy beats and rhythms is part of what makes them so appealing and popular around the globe.
Pink Martini was born from former “politian-in-training” and pianist Thomas Lauderdale’s desire to provide beautiful and wide-ranging music for the political fundraisers he so often attended. He hoped to deliver a bi-partisan musical treat, with world music influences ranging from jazz to classical to pop, for political fundraising causes like the environment, civil rights, and education, among others.
Almost 20 years later, the 10-12 member band, or “little orchestra,” has had top hits in Japan and France (with their first song, “Sympatique”), played with distinguished orchestras on world class stages, and collaborated with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Japanese singer Saori Yuki, Carol Channing, the original cast of Sesame Street, and more.
Last night’s performance featured their strings, brass, guitar, decked out percussion, band leader, and pianist Thomas Lauderdale, and vocalist China Forbes playing perennial favorites “Amado Mio,” “Donde Estas Yolanda,” and “Hey Eugene.” They also delighted the audience with a new song called “Ich dich liebe” from their upcoming album, originally sung by actress Mamie Van Doren, and many other wonderful tunes. Cellist Pansy Chang’s beautiful, emotional, and haunting performance of the Croatian “U Plavu Zoru” was particularly well received, and trombonist Robert Taylor’s rendition of “She Was Too Good To Me” was tender and sweet. China Forbes was enchanting, as always, grasping so many languages and conveying the heart and soul of each piece. She looked the part, too (really, they all did), wearing a ruffled red dress that moved as she danced and worked the stage during the first half. She changed into a black gown for the second half of the performance, and continued to dance and engage with the other instrumentalists.
The performance was exciting and at times dramatic, and all in good fun. The outstanding virtuosity of the musicians was a dream to listen to and watch, and everyone on stage seemed to feed off of each other, making for a tight performance. Lauderdale also invited any and all audience members to the stage to swing and cha-cha, and the audience gleefully obliged. The band’s final encore was “Brazil,” with Lauderdale encouraging a conga line and Forbes gesturing everyone else in the audience to stand and dance in their seats. We couldn’t help but stand—we were all wiggling in our chairs and tapping our feet anyway—and the band closed the evening with cheers and a standing ovation.
Pink Martini played for one-night-only on July 1, 2013 at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap -1645 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For future performances and Information, call (877) 965-3872, or check their calendar of events.
Pink Martini website.