words by Patty Riek
photos by Jon Bauer
San Francisco has loved Pink Martini long before their much deserved appearances on The White Lotus season two soundtrack, so it’s no surprise that SF Jazz is hosting Pink Martini for eight nights of their Holiday Dazzle Tour (December 13-18). And, dazzle they did on Tuesday evening! Pink Martini gloriously sang most of the songs on their Holiday Album: Joy to the World with several notable additions.
In Pink Martini, superlative musicians come together to reimagine old holiday standards. With the entire band backing them, Thomas Lauderdale on piano, Nicholas Crosa on violin, Miguel Bernal congas, Antonis Andreou on trombone (and a whistling solo) added depth to “Do You Hear What I Hear,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “We Three Kings,” and “White Christmas.” The tinkling piano notes, the slide of the bow across the strings, the gentle rhythms of the congas, the crooning of the trombone can all be discerned. The individual instrumental contributions gently combined to enrich each song. Additionally, the Pink Martini original track inspired by a Portland, Oregon snow storm, “A Snow Globe Christmas,” with Dan Faehnle on guitar created the familiar musical fusion of the Pacific northwest and the Hawaiian Islands familiar to those of us on the West Coast.
China Forbes’s crisp enunciation (even on the “Little Drummer Boy refrain of “rum pum pum pum”) and vocal strength across ranges brought the Pink Martini repertoire alive. Listening to Forbes is like wearing a cashmere sweater – warm, soothing, luxurious. Her buoyant personality contributed to the convivial feeling of the evening.
Pink Martini strived to include celebrations from around the world. Timothy Nishimoto who sings vocals and adds percussive notes sang duets on “Elohai, N’tzor” and ” Gong Xi” lead on “Ocho Kandelikas.”
In addition to the holiday pieces, newish members of PM Edna Vazquez and Jimmie Herrod offered stand out solos. Vasquez sang and played guitar to two moving solos including her tribute to Rigoberta Menchu Ixim Ixoq (Mujer Maiz). The America’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer winner, Herrod, sang a solo and offered back up vocals and gloriously belted out “Tomorrow” as part of the encore.
The Miner Auditorium offered the intimate feel of a small venue with excellent staging and a colorful mid-century-esque light show of orbs and simulated snow fall.
To close the encore, the band offered their own jazzy rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” which China Forbes sang in three languages – a perfect holiday send off.
Pink Martini’s Friday, December 16 peformance at 7:30pm will be streamed live from SFJAZZ.org. For more information, visit this LINK