Eclectic jazz group Pink Martini to perform at the Hop tonight

by Jordan McDonald | 10/17/17 12:00am


Comprised of 11 performers from Portland, Oregon, jazz group Pink Martini, which was founded in 1994, artfully merges music from around the world, infusing it with its own unparalleled style. This worldly appeal is partially a result of Pink Martini’s commitment to embody what bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale described as the house band the United Nations would have had in 1962. 

While Pink Martini’s fanbase is widespread and extends beyond the U.S., the Dartmouth community and the Upper Valley at large have been notoriously receptive to the eclectic group and its multilingual repertoire. In fact, Pink Martini is something of a Dartmouth favorite, having returned to campus multiple times. Its upcoming performance marks its fourth appearance in Hanover. 

Hopkins Center for the Arts director of programming Margaret Lawrence credits Pink Martini’s uniqueness for the group’s status as a musical favorite of the Dartmouth community. 

“Pink Martini is this fabulous combination of a cocktail band, a jazz band, a mini-orchestra, an ironic, hip, tongue-in-cheek band,” Lawrence said. 

Gray Christie ’20, a jazz music enthusiast who plays second alto saxophone for Dartmouth’s Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, said that Pink Martini’s sound and performance style are distinctive.

“The name ‘Pink Martini’ and the dynamic between the animated pianist [Lauderdale]  and the female vocalist  [China Forbes] are both elements of the group’s presentation that evoke the smoky, film noir, swing-era nightclub vision of jazz,” he said.

Christie noted that while the group’s presentation may hearken back to a stereotypical vision of the jazz era, the instrumentation is actually a diversion from typical jazz style.

“For me, the most striking element of the band’s instrumentation is the inclusion of a string section, which can give the music the sound of mid-century pop music — not necessarily jazz, but calling on similar sources of nostalgia,” Christie said.

Music is often described as a language, a medium that allows for communication across boundaries. For Pink Martini, this conception of music is reiterated through its multinational and multilingual set list and diverse audiences. Over the past few years, people from outside of the Upper Valley have been known to travel to Hanover to watch and listen to Pink Martini perform at the Hop, according to Lawrence.  

In addition to their musical appeal, college students may find that attending performances from visiting artists like Pink Martini can provide a sense of departure from the typical school environment. At Pink Martini shows, the audience is often filled with both students and non-students, forging a more organic experience for those who may be seeking a change of pace. 

 Christie expressed excitement about bringing jazz groups like Pink Martini to Dartmouth’s campus. 

“In my opinion, any jazz act that comes to campus is a worthwhile experience,” he said. “I’m all for the idea of spreading jazz appreciation on campus, and a group like this is a good way to get people interested.”

Embracing coincidence, the show takes place in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so, following the Pink Martini show, the bar at the top of the Hop will be decked out in pink to celebrate the group and raise breast cancer awareness, Lawrence said. 

“It’s not the purpose of the show, but they happen to be here during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so while they’re here, we’ll also give a shout out to that,” Lawrence said. “Our pop-up bar — which we’ve been experimenting with at the Top of the Hop before and after the show — it will be lit up in pink and there will be a special pink drink that night.”

Pink Martini will perform at the Hop tonight at 7 p.m.