Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm Crazy for You Pink Thing

It's a darn good thing that John Bolton isn't a music critic or he'd no doubt suggest that if Pink Martini lost 10 floors it wouldn't make a bit of difference. The 13-musician group, which appeared last night at UCSB Campbell Hall, offers up a United Nations of musicks, just in this 2-hour show singing songs in Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, and oh, yeah, English. In many ways it's lounge music for not-lounging, not with 4 percussionists percussing and bandleader Thomas Lauderdale reminding us that the piano is a percussion instrument, too. His hands do happy little leaps across the keys, as if they are moved to dance to the delightful music they make. If you want your music to be fun, be sure to order up a Pink Martini.

I would also be remiss not to discuss chanteuse China Forbes, the group's riveting frontwoman. Josef Woodard in the News-Press (no link because the News-Press doesn't believe anyone should read them for free, not realizing no one wants to read them because of Wendy) called her "fetching" the other day, which is apt, but also makes me wonder how a word often associated with dogs got tangled up meaning captivating, too. Forbes' facility singing in numerous languages is all the more impressive that she can do so without sounding like Berlitz tapes; this is swellingly romantic music, thanks to two violinists and a harpist, of all things, and it's easy to attach a whole lot of romance to Forbes. That said, it is hard to imagine her not being called by the guy named Eugene in one number that is the closest the band gets to novelty, despite always being novel. Of course they're perched on the edge of camp, but the musicianship is so good, and they seem so serious, if serious about the fun, that they never let any condescension slip into the act. They even pulled off an opening take on that warhorse the "Bolero," which has to fight both memories of Bo Derek and, in Santa Barbara, recollections of the Brian Brooks Moving Company closing a recent SUMMERDANCE piece with eight hands sinuously signing the song past its familiarity.

Of course, despite on one hand being "mere" froth, Pink Martini packs a sly political message too. Not just a testament to the joys of cultural leap-frogging, it suggests there isn’t world music as much as music, period. Love is love in Arabic or English, which is a lesson more than a few people could stand to learn. And what better to be able to stand to learn something and have no choice but to sway your hips a bit, too.


Blogger Tom Hilton said...

To play the 'x meets y' game, your description sounds like Combustible Edison meets 3 Mustaphas 3. ;-) In any case, it sounds great...I'll check them out. Thanks for the tip!

10:13 AM  
Blogger George said...

Pink Martini is a bit more lounge-y than 3 Mustaphas 3, but funny you should bring them up, because I keep feeling as if Sacha Baron Cohen owes 3M3 and the whole village of Szergely some money.

Plus with our "download all the CDs into the iPod project," 3M3 keep popping up and reminding me how much fun they are.

10:19 AM  

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