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Pink Martini makes the BPO into a very big band

It’s tough to describe the band Pink Martini. As one review in The News was headlined some years ago: “Stirred-up Pink Martini creates a cocktail of different sounds.”

You can call them a cocktail band, but Pink Martini, since its founding in Oregon in the mid-1990s, has proven it can do pretty much anything. They play pop, jazz, Afro-Cuban – maybe not surprising since the dozen band members have a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

The band’s classical roots show in how it occasionally borrows from Tchaikovsky or Schubert. Anchored by the piano of founding member Thomas Lauderdale, the band is also famous for old-fashioned cabaret and putting their own passionate spin on old-time standards.

Pink Martini’s versatility shows in the extensive roster of artists it has performed with – artists including Jimmy Scott, Carol Channing, Rufus Wainwright and Michael Feinstein. The band even did an album with the von Trapp Family singers, and turned out a beautiful a cappella performance of a Brahms song. In such a number, it emulates the early 20th century sophistication of the Comedian Harmonists and other jazzy vocal groups.

Longtime lead singer China Forbes began sharing vocal duties in recent years with Storm Large, and it is Large who will be singing when Pink Martini joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on March 12 for what promises to be a multifaceted show. The numbers will be announced from the stage.

The concert takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday in Kleinhans Music Hall. BPO Associate Conductor Stefan Sanders conducts. Tickets are $39.50-$89.50. For info, call 885-5000 or visit

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