Talking ’bout jazz with Pink Martini

Pink Martini will play Derry on Sunday, May 5, as part of the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. (150413JC2)
Pink Martini will play Derry on Sunday, May 5, as part of the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. (150413JC2)

The fabulous US-based Pink Martini will stop off in Derry to play next month’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival while conquering the world.

Having sold more than 1 million albums in the US and over 150,000 in the UK, the band are currently releasing a new single with none other than Rufus Wainright! Now touring these isles and selling out London’s Royal Albert Hall, they’re on their way to the Millennium Forum on Sunday, May 5.

The ‘Journal’ caught up with Pink Martini’s leading light, China Forbes, to learn more about this twelve-piece musical maelstrom bound for the city.

Originally hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, China Forbes admits she has always been immersed in music.

“Yes, this is a lifelong passion for me. I guess it was when I discovered Donna Summer when I was a kid and fantasised about being just like her. That love of music evolved into rock and then I picked up a guitar and became interested in the whole singer-songwriter thing and all that led me here,” she reflects.

Pink Martini started in 1994, with China joining the ranks in 1995. “And we haven’t stopped since!” she laughs.

China is particularly excited about bringing the tour here. “I missed the last time we played in Ireland! Pink Martini have performed there twice before but unfortunately, I was recovering from surgery on my vocal chords and couldn’t come! So this is my first time over there and I’m really excited.”

Speaking of their global appeal, China went on: “We’ve been all over the world, in fact, it would be easier to say where we haven’t been! So I guess we haven’t been to India, Sweden or mainland China. We’ll be going to South Africa in the next year or two, so it is pretty global. In terms of the audiences we attract, I’d say that we have an all-ages appeal. We appeal to older people and little kids much more than we would appeal to teenagers.”

SO what can Derry audiences expect from a Pink Martini gig? “You can expect music that’s uplifting, romantic, multi-lingual and melodic, and of course it makes you want to dance. We have an orchestration that is so beautiful too,” China says. “Lots of fans want to dance at our shows and it’s brilliant when that happens, but no matter what, as long as the audiences are lively, then that’s all that counts.”

While their music encapsulates myriad musical influences, China is bemused that the band is often invited to jazz festivals.

“It’s funny, we don’t necessarily see ourselves as a jazz band, but we do play a lot of jazz festivals,” she says. “I suppose our music fits more naturally into that genre than at a rock festival as we do have many jazz elements, but I’d say we don’t really fit any category, we just love making music.”

And on a final note to Derry fans, the US chanteuse adds: “Please come and see us! I missed our last Irish appearance so I’m really looking forward to seeing what Derry is all about, I’m really hoping we get a big audience and a conga line at the end!”

Pink Martini will play the Millennium Forum on Sunday, May 5, at 8pm as part of the city’s Jazz Festival.

Tickets are available now from the Forum Box Office on: 71 264455 or online.