Review: Pink Martini – Symphonique, Royal Albert Hall

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I’m not ashamed to say that I first found about the music of Pink Martini when a song of theirs was featured in a Citroën car advert. The song was Sympathique:

Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement oublier
Et puis, je fume

A rough translation in English: “I don’t wanna work, I don’t wanna eat, I just wanna forget. So I’m havin’ a fag.” Not exactly the typical backdrop to a car advert, but it was enough for more to seek out the band’s first album (also titled Sympathique) – and my love affair with Thomas Lauderdale’s band and China Forbes’s vocals had begun.

For those who don’t know Pink Martini, they are a twelve-piece jazz orchestra which appropriates songs and styles from all over the world. As I described to The Prompt blog back in June:

I suppose you might classify them as light jazz, but they absorb influences from around the world like musical magpies – you never know whether their next track is a Japanese folk song, a twisted take on the great American songbook or inspired by a traditional Hebrew prayer. They’re constantly surprising and I can’t wait to see them live at the Royal Albert Hall in October.

Well, October is here, and last night I got my first taste of Pink Martini live – in the Royal Albert Hall, backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

And now I can’t wait to see them again.

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Review: Pink Martini – Symphonique, Royal Albert Hall5Scott Matthewman2012-09-11 22:30:22I’m not ashamed to say that I first found about the music of Pink Martini when a song of theirs was featured in a Citroën car advert. The song was Sy…

Joy to the World, Pink Martini

Oregon-based jazz group Pink Martini have over the years become one of my favourite groups. Every CD release of theirs brings fresh surprises, as the musical magpies fuse influences from Europe, the mid-East, America and the far East.

They have just released their first album of Christmas songs and, as you’d expect, it’s an eclectic mix. Along traditional songs – White Christmas, Little Drummer Boy, We Three Kings, Santa Baby – are some songs from around the globe. The Ukrainian ‘Carol of the Bells’, Shchedryk, is perhaps the best known. It is joined by a Chinese New Year song, Congratulations and Hebrew prayer song Elohai N’tzor.

Even the more well-known songs are given a twist. Silent Night being sung in both German in English is nothing new, perhaps, but it is given a verse in Arabic. We Three Kings is given an Africa-inspired makeover, and the whole album concludes with Auld Lang Syne performed to a Samba tempo and with lyrics in English, French and Arabic.

It’s a little demented in places, but also extremely beautiful in others – and a cut above the usual Christmas albums which churn out bland covers of the usual standards.

You can use the little Flash-based widget below to hear samples of each track, or on the Amazon MP3 download page. It’s also available as an audio CD and on iTunes.