Combining classical, jazz, international pop, cabaret and lounge music to create a unique sound that is at once nostalgic and modern, Pink Martini is a genre of one. Formed in Portland in 1994, the group, which has been described as a “little orchestra,” dips into the pool of collective sounds and styles and emerges with something lovely, polished and worldly. As the band members are fond of saying, “We play the music of the world without playing world music.”
With diverse musical backgrounds, the 13 members of Pink Martini find common ground in music that celebrates 1940s and ‘50s-era Hollywood, with its focus on glamour, high-style and swanky socializing. With plenty of strings, heartfelt delivery, a multi-lingual vocalist and a dedication to keeping things cool, this is a band that brings to mind the time of ballrooms, orchestras, jet-setters and torch songs.
The band’s founding members, Thomas M. Lauderdale and China Forbes, met while attending Harvard and found that they shared a preference for socializing over studying. They started making music together, eventually put together a band and Pink Martini was born.
The band’s debut album, Sympathique, which they released in 1997 on their own label, Heinz Records, was an enormous success and launched the band into the public spotlight. It showcased Pink Martini’s fun-loving yet respectful take on mid-20th century pop music and they became an international sensation, gaining the praise of critics and audiences around the world.
Since that time, Pink Martini has released 5 albums and made appearances in several films and television shows including Tortilla Soup, Shanghai Kiss, Dead Like Me and The Sopranos. The band has collaborated with some of the world’s great symphonies and has established itself as a genre-embracing, ultra-stylish band of top-notch musicians and performers.
Playing inter-generational, cross-cultural music with broad appeal, Pink Martini is a band whose appreciation and understanding of the popular music of the past has opened up the channels for a new wave of fans and musicians.
Pink Martini performs with the San Francisco Symphony on Saturday, July 2 at the Flint Center in Cupertino.