Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pink Martini: Portland's Cocktail to the World

I don’t know where I’ve been that Pink Martini has escaped my radar until now. Oh sure, I’d heard of the Portland-based group, but it wasn’t until last night that I paid attention … at the Portland Zoo. My wife, in her wisdom, had invited me on a date to a Pink Martini concert.


The 14-piece Pink Martini is a potent, heady and rollicking cocktail.

The concert was an exuberant celebration of music, ALL music. Music from everywhere (Russia, Japan, Brazil, Egypt, France, America etc.), from all times (with a particular quirky fixation on the Forties), from numerous if not all instruments (harp, trombone, congas, cello, piano, guitar, violin etc.), and languages.

Pink Martini has a remarkably risky and rangy repertoire. Inevitably, some songs please more than others. But a Pink Martini concert, taken as a whole, is a tour de force.

The most exciting part of all this is that a young generation of musicians is sharing so much with an even younger cohort. The young fans clearly idolize the group and its musical mission. Crowded around the front of the zoo’s stage were exuberant high school students, who shouted between-tune questions. Lead singer China Forbes fielded them all with aplomb and warmth. They don’t call her the “diva next door” for nothing. Someone wanted to know where she bought her shoes. It turns out she made them — more or less.

One last thought about Pink Martini: Leader Tom Lauderdale made numerous connections to the group’s Portland roots. As Pink Martini travels the world (and do they ever!), we can only hope that they serve not merely as ambassadors of this country, but of this remarkable city.

They are a true source of civic pride.

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