With the recent release of their ninth studio album “Je dis oui,” Pink Martini will be performing at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m., showcasing newly recorded tracks along with selections from the band’s holiday album.
The Portland-based band’s founder, bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale along with lead singers China Forbes and Storm Large, and guest vocals from NPR “All Things Considered” host Ari Shapiro, fashion maven Ikram Goldman, civil rights activist Kathleen Saadat and Rufus Wainwright will entertain the masses with polished vocals in a variety of languages.
Lauderdale created the band in 1994 after he graduated from Harvard where he had high hopes to become the Mayor of Portland. Originally assembling the band to perform at political fundraisers and events, Lauderdale switched goals from politics to music.
“I was working in politics so the band kind of really came out of political works,” said Lauderdale. “We recorded our first album which China and I had written in French and it became popular in France.
“It was better to travel around the world and play for adoring audiences making people happy as opposed to working under fluorescent lighting facing angry constituents every day.”
Lauderdale began playing the piano at age six and continued playing classical piano through the years. Although the concept of playing in a band was not on his radar, the 10-plus ensemble features a brass section, full percussion, upright bass guitar, cello, piano, and vocals, with performers singing melodies in 25 different languages. The most recent album was just released worldwide.
“We are very much an American band and we represent the diversity in America,” stated Lauderdale. “This album unfolded almost like a diary.”
Pink Martini just spent a month abroad in France, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. The tour will take them through California and several other cities in states across the U.S.
The new album named “Je dis oui” is French for “I say yes” and is filled with 15 tracks that include vocals in different languages as well as musical arrangements that will delight the senses.
“It hopefully is going to be a spectacle,” added Lauderdale regarding what people can expect to see at their performance at the Gallo. “It will feature songs from all of our albums and there are moments where we open up the dance floor and encourage people to dance. Then hopefully the night will end in a conga line.”