Portland's Pink Martini has elegantly eased its way to the head of the plush-carpeted lounge pack. The 12-person ensemble, anchored by founder/pianist Thomas Lauderdale and fronted by chanteuse China Forbes, recently surpassed easy-listening luminaries Martin Denny, Sergio Mendes and even Henry Mancini to land last year's LP Hey Eugene! at No. 1 on Amazon.com's lounge listings. (Since hipsters' appetite for kitsch knows no bounds, it's also done decent trade on the indie-rock circuit.) The Martinis think of their albums as musical geography tutorials, and Hey Eugene! flits from high-style old Hollywood ("Everywhere") to Russia and Italy ("Dosvedanya, Mio Bombino"), South America ("Mar Desconocido"), Japan ("Taya Tan") and Egypt ("Bukra Wba'do"), before touching down in London's West End for a languid duet between Forbes and legendary jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott on No, No Nanette standard "Tea For Two."
Lauderdale-Forbes originals like "Ojala" and "City of Night," meanwhile, might have listeners looking over their shoulders for Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn. Martini's three-night Jones Hall engagement, their Houston debut, should prompt their Houston Symphony hosts to loosen those bow ties, cha-cha-cha around the rehearsal room and order their post-concert cocktails with a twist.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.