Pink Martini: Hang On Little Tomato (2006)
The words scattered throughout Pink Martini's album Hang On Little Tomato conjure the most delectable delicacies in their quaintest forms. The group's name alone is incredibly precious. Take that most classic of all cocktails, with all it represents and add pink, with all it represents and every single one of us becomes an irretrievably tipsy, candy-lipped starlet, woozy in a world rife with nostalgic aura, where "stars fall away like diamonds.
Sentiments gain or lose magnitude in life, but emotions exist at heart-swelling peaks throughout all fourteen tracks on this disc. Love's eternal quality, the contagious characteristics of happiness, and the enormity of a crushed heart are woven through each of Thomas Lauderdale's piano promenades and each inflection of China Forbes' sophisticated vocals (both wrote most of the music). But the album is never overbearingly serious, or cheesy, ever.
With a personnel list comprising fifteen individuals and one orchestra, from a variety of musical and cultural backgrounds, the album contains a potent concoction of ingredients and ideas. One pervading element stands outan aura of daydream kitsch that envelops each tune. Lyrics evoking images of mysterious elegance conjure scenes from a David Lynch film. "Black is the night/Black as my heart, sings Robert Taylor on "Veronique. His own long, sad, gorgeous trumpet solos follow.
Several songs don an added allure nuzzled in the mystique of a foreign tongue. Forbes sings the epic "U Plavu Zoru in Croatian. Pansy Chang opens the track with her deeply emotive cello. Her long, ethereal swipes of the bow plunge into earthy minimalist patterns that mingle with celebratory percussion and dangerous trumpet by Gavin Bondy. The lush swells of the Harvey Rosencrantz Orchestra overwhelm, giving way to Dan Faehnle's brisk guitars.
"Kikuchiyo To Mohshimasu, with its haunting melody and lyrics translated into English in the booklet, is sung by Timothy Nishimoto in Japanese. The poetically charming "Una Notte A Napoli combines tender sadness with the overwhelming power of seduction. Italian star Alba Clemente narrates huskily, while Forbes loses herself to the swirls of percussion, harp, strings and horns.
Spanish and French vocals also find their places among the enchanting lexis on this album. And mixed with an amalgam of Latin, Cuban, European and African rhythms, Hang On Little Tomato resonates with a deliciously international flavor.
Track Listing: Let's Never Stop Falling in Love; Anna (El Negro Zumbon); Hang on Little Tomato; The Gardens of Sampson & Beasley; Veronique; Dansez-vous; Lilly; Autrefois; U Plavu Zoru; Clementine; Una Notte a Napoli; Kikuchiyo to Mohshimasu; Aspettami; Song of the Black Swan.
Personnel: Jayne Andrews, Celeste Arias, Michael Boss Barba, Steve Becic, Megan Bentley, Jake Oken Berg, Aja Blair, Daniel Callaway, Alex U. Case, Jason DeSanto, Alessandro DiBari, Mario Dodici, Edward Droste, Colin M. Fjeld, China Forbes, Glen Hoover, Kellye Justice, Kelvin Klein, Zoe Larkins, Michael Lucia, Pasquale Madeddu, Megan McCarthy, Louise McLean, Roarke Menzies, Anne Munson, Brett Mustard, Tyler Neist, Timothy Nishimoto, Beatrice Oliboni, Roberto Olivero, Doug Peebles, Sergio Pellecchia, Paige Powell, Lisa Randall, Madison Rowley, David Scheer, Gino Schettini, Andrew Shimomura, Jonny Shultz, Joseph Spinrad, Trevor Strang, Evelyne Taylor, Dale Thompson, David Vail, Shaunel Watts, Larry E. Williams, Maliea Yakymi, Cathie Joy Young, Scott Young: vocals; Kazunori Asano: acoustic guitar, ukulele; Phil Baker: bass; Joel Belgique: viola; Heather Blackburn: cello; Gavin Bondy: trumpet, vocals; Pansy Change: cello; Alba Clemente: narrator; Julie Coleman: violin; Brian Davis: percussion, conga, vocals, tamborim; Dan Faehnle: acoustic guitar, guitar, mandolin, electric guitar; Mara Lise Gearman: viola; Paloma Griffin: violin, vocals; Phil Hansen: cello; Denise Huizenga: violin; Doree Jarboe: choir director; Timothy Jensen: baritone sax; Thomas Lauderdale: piano, vocals; Norman Leyden: clarinet; Maureen Love: harp; Osao Murata: organ; Charles Noble: viola; Oreet Ranon: cello; Dieter Ratzlaf: cello; Derek Rieth: percussion, bongos, vocals, caxixi, surdo, shekere; Timothy Scott: cello; Douglas Edwards Smith: percussion, timbales, vocals, pandeiro, vibraphone, guiro; Michael Spiro: conga; Jason Stronquist: trombone; Robert Taylor: trombone, trumpet, vocals; Masumi Timson: koto; Hiroshi Wada: slide guitar; John Wager: bass, upright bass; Martin Zarzar: percussion, drums, timbales, vocals.