Pink MartiniPhoto courtesy Inertia Recordings/Heinz Records

It was a sassy, sophisticated and multicultural affair when 12-piece mini orchestra, Pink Martini came to Melbourne on a balmy summer’s evening.

The talented clique from Portland, Oregon is the brainchild of Thomas H. Lauderdale, an accomplished classically trained pianist. In a somewhat conventional beginning, Lauderdale met the group’s salsa dancing songstress, China Forbes while studying at Harvard University. Since 1994, the group has created its own über modern niche. Having released three albums, Sympathique, Hang On Little Tomato and 2007's Hey Eugene!, the genre can perhaps be described as a precocious, jazzy come cabaret cocktail of musique, wit, a strong sense of worldliness influenced partly by 1940s to 1960s films made in Hollywood and beyond.

Between Lauderdale, who made an animated and inviting compere, and the sometimes sounding Shirley Bassy-esque Forbes, the audience was provided with a quick entertaining background to each of the pieces, and their source of inspiration. It was a perfect vocal marriage of Forbes and Timothy Nishimoto (who also plays percussion) as they seamlessly switched from singing in Spanish (for example, the beautiful ‘Cante e Dance’), Croatian, Japanese, Italian (‘Una Notte a Napoli’ being a favourite) and the Arabic, ‘Bukra wba’do’.

And last but not least, the percussionists (Brian Davis, Martín Zarzar), string players (Pansy Chang, Phil Baker), trumpeter (Robert Taylor) and guitarists (Dan Faehnle, Nicholas Crosa) formed the ultimate backbone to this smoky contemporary musical act.

For a clever and truly different sound, switch to Pink Martini this summer.

Saturday January 5
Sydney Festival’s First Night –
Hyde Park, Sydney City
Sunday January 6
Sydney Festival, State Theatre
49 Market Street, Sydney City
Tickets $55-$60 pre-sale + bf from all outlets
Tuesday January 8
Sydney Festival, Riverside Theatre
Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Tickets $48-$55 +bf from and all outlets

Thursday January 10
Victorian Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Tickets $75-$85 from all outlets

Friday January 11 and Saturday January 12
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Tickets $40-$50 from all outlets

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