by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS
Portland-based Pink Martini is a danceable jazz combo with international flair. “More and more,” said founder Thomas Lauderdale, “as time goes on and we see the growth of so much bitter divisiveness in America and across the globe, our ambition is to find commonalities and bring people together with our music — Republicans and Democrats, the old and the young. … Everywhere we go, especially when we’re in a country not represented already in our concerts, I ask people for suggestions of songs with beautiful melodies that are beloved in their culture.”
Lauderdale created Pink Martini almost a quarter-century ago — recruiting Harvard classmate China Forbes as lead singer — as a backing band for political fundraisers. He aspired to be mayor of Portland, but that ambition derailed when the band’s first single ascended French music charts. Since then, Pink Martini has been featured on Parks and Recreation, Sherlock, The Sopranos, The Tonight Show, The West Wing and in over half a dozen movies. Its single “Hey Eugene!” hit the pop charts in 2007, followed by a cover of “Joy to the World” in 2010. The band is touring in support of its 2016 album, Je dis oui! (“I say yes!”).
“I think the real theme of the record,” Lauderdale added, “is to bring people together, to find commonalities among different cultures … Our goal is to end every show with the audience forming an enormous conga line during our final song, ‘Brazil.’ But before that there will be a couple of songs during the program, I’m sure, where we’ll invite anyone from the audience who brought their dancing shoes to come on stage and dance with us. We love a good neighborly dance party with our fans! People have stopped dancing. Dancing is so important. I think that Pink Martini has some great songs to dance to.”
Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April. 21