Pink Martini News
With deepest sorrow, we announce the passing of Derek Rieth, whose long struggle with bipolar disorder ended when he took his own life on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Derek was a beloved son, brother, friend and colleague whose beautiful heart and passion for music touched so many lives. He will be deeply missed. A private memorial service for friends and family is planned for early September. Public tributes will be ongoing, and the family has also announced the creation of the Derek Rieth Foundation, to raise money to provide musical instruments and music education to less privileged children. Donations to the Foundation can be sent care of Pink Martini.
New album "Get Happy". Pink Martini touring UK in October and November 2014 - see our Tour page for details.
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HISTORY and BIOGRAPHY
Somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brasilian marching street band and Japanese film noir is the 12-piece Pink Martini.
Part language lesson, part Hollywood musical, the Portland, Oregon-based little orchestra was created in 1994 by Harvard graduate and classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale to play at political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, affordable housing and public broadcasting.
Equally at home performing its romantic, multi-lingual repertoire on concert stages and in smoky bars, Pink Martini draws a wildly diverse crowd. The ensemble made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 and in the years following toured throughout Europe (including France, England, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland and Greece), Turkey, Taiwan, Lebanon and the United States.
Since making its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra in 1999 under the direction of Norman Leyden, Pink Martini has performed with symphony orchestras across the country. Orchestral performances include four nights with the Boston Pops in 2005 and multiple concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, including two nights with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in 2000, two nights with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on a co-bill with Sergio Mendes in 2002 and two nights headlining with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2005.
In October 2003, Pink Martini performed at the grand opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's new Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. They were invited back to play two sold-out performances for the hall's first New Year's Eve celebrations in 2003 and returned for two more sold-out shows on New Years Eve 2004. Other appearances include Late Night with Conan OBrien, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, the opening of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the William Morris Agency's 100th birthday celebration with soul legend, Al Green.
Pink Martini's debut album, Sympathique, was released independently on the band's own label, Heinz Records (named after Lauderdale's dog), and has sold over 700,000 copies worldwide. Nominated for "Song of the Year" and "Best New Artist" in France's Victoires de la Musique Awards, Sympathique has gone Platinum in France and Gold in Switzerland, Greece and Turkey.
Pink Martini released its highly-anticipated second album, Hang on Little Tomato, in October 2004 on Heinz Records in the United States and Naïve Records across Europe. The album has sold over 480,000 copies worldwide, gone Gold in France, Canada, Greece and Turkey, and received the German Jazz Award by the Phonographic Industries of Germany.
"We're kind of like musical archaeologists, bringing melodies and rhythms from different parts of the world together to create something which is modern," says founder and pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale. "It's like an urban musical travelogue....and I think as citizens of the world and in a sense as musical ambassadors for the United States, we must always strive to study the languages, customs, and histories of other countries. We're very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad, in Europe, in Turkey, in Lebanon and therefore have the opportunity to demonstrate that Americans are indeed serious about engaging in a dialogue with the rest of the world."
"One of our goals is to make music which has broad appeal to people, no matter who they are or where they come from. We play the same set of music wherever we go, whether it's in a small farming community in Oregon or in France or Turkey or with a symphony orchestra. Music should be like a wonderful dinner party. I don't want to always sit next to people who share my opinions. I think each of us wants a hugely diverse tapestry of influences in our lives. That's what makes life much more interesting. Every day becomes an adventure."
"My hope is that we're creating exquisite musical wallpaper which can be turned up or down, and played on almost any occasion, from background music to a love affair to vacuuming around the house," Lauderdale says. "I think our music allows people to dance and sing again with its beautiful melodies and beautiful lyrics. It is entirely romantic and expresses hope and eternal optimism, all the while recognizing that there is a great amount of sadness in the world."
Drawing on themes articulated in their debut album, Pink Martinis second album, Hang on Little Tomato, features mostly original songs written by the band and its extended family. Una Notte a Napoli, for example, was written with Alba Clemente an Italian stage and television star in the 1970s and DJ Johnny Dynell of the legendary New York-based nightclub Jackie 60. In a reworking of the Japanese song Kikuchiyo to Mohshimasu, Pink Martini collaborated and recorded in Japan with Hiroshi Wada, the slide guitarist whose group originally recorded and released the song 40 years ago.
Hang on Little Tomatos numerous muses range from a 1964 LIFE magazine advertisement for Hunts Ketchup to a dance sequence from the 1950 Italian film Anna. With songs in French, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Spanish and English, Hang on Little Tomato is the result of Pink Martinis diverse collaborations, inspirations, and determined pursuits of beauty.