Pink Martini, an 11-piece orchestra from Oregon, performed a second show on November 1st to a sold-out crowd at the Kahilu Theatre. Creative and colorful songs in 12 languages featured three singers, four percussionists, a conga line and dozens of dancers who were invited on stage.
Pink Martini began in 1994 in Portland, Oregon when local Thomas Lauderdale decided to fill an empty niche for beautiful, inclusive soundtracks for political fundraisers. He aimed to support causes like civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, education, public broadcasting, libraries and parks. In so doing, he invited China Forbes, a former Harvard classmate, to help him with songwriting and vocals in over a dozen languages. Their first song “Sympatique” went on to win awards and hearts in France, which took the band traveling abroad. Pink Martini has played with over 50 orchestras worldwide and continues to wow audiences, including those at the Kahilu Theater.
The orchestra began the evening with a ‘Bolero’ bang, featuring Nicholas Crosa on violin throughout, plus trumpet and trombone. Highlights of the evening included that same, first, famous French tune sung by China Forbes with an instrumental solo reminiscent of Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the Bright side of Life’, and China displaying a dazzling array of diction perfection in a dozen languages. When she needed to review lyrics in Japanese, they were hiding on the grand piano, which did not detract from her musicality and fervor. Male singers Antonis Andreou, who doubled on trombone, and Timothy Mishimoto, who played percussion, complemented China’s vocals to perfection. Thomas Lauderdale wowed us with playful, staccato finger action on the piano – reminiscent of Liberace and Elton John. He invited ‘100’s of dancers’ to the stage for the upbeat Latin and Turkish tunes, and received at least a few dozen, who playfully frolicked behind the band. ‘PM’ took a request to play guitar and bass player, Phil Baker’s own tune ‘Canchi y Danchi’ – a lively Portuguese number, featuring both Phil Baker and Bill Marsh on guitar.
Another creative twist was the duet by China Forbes and Timothy Nishimoto, when they covered Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland’s mash-up of “Get Happy” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” While I had viewed it previously on a YouTube of Judy’s show, I’d never seen it live, which was a true treat. By the Hana Hou, “Brasil,” almost everyone in the audience was up on their feet clapping and samba dancing, as well as creating a memorable Conga line! As a first time Pink Martini audience member, and fellow singer of several languages, I was highly impressed by the musicality and intensity shared by the orchestra members, which reflected back nicely with audience zeal. My husband, who feared ‘PM’ might be ‘tired, old man music,’ was pleasantly surprised by the energizing show. I will definitely check them out again, and if you have the opportunity to see them anywhere in the world, you will not be disappointed.
Set List I
Bolero | Amado Mio | Sypathique | Ich Dich Libe | Donde Estas Yolanda? | I’m Waiting Four You To Back | Ashkim Bahardi | Al Bint | I Am Woman
Set List II
Flying Squirrel | Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love | Hang On Little Tomato | Anna | Yo Te Quiero | Zundoko Bushi | Pata Pata |
Una Notte a Napoli | Brasil
Love Guru Uma wears many hats these days: author, musician, Uber driver, substitute teacher and tour guide. She likes to stay busy to keep boredom at bay. See what new thing she’s up to at www.umaojeda.weebly.com
Photos: Steve Roby
Be sure to visit Pink Martini’s official website for the latest music and tour info: http://pinkmartini.com
Check out interview with Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale: https://www.bigislandmusic.net/talking-story-with-pink-martinis-thomas-lauderdale/