Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Pink Martini Anyone?
Thursday, 17 November 2011 11:00

Monday night I went with a friend to the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe to see Pink Martini. My friend Sherry told me about this group a few years ago. She is the same one who told me to visit Carnavalet in Paris.

To prepare for the concert, I went to Youtube to see what I could find, hear and see and to get a sense of the orchestra before Monday evening. Songs like Bolero, Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler, songs performed with other artists at the Hollywood Bowl where over my many years in Los Angeles I attended a plethora of concerts and performances. But nothing truly prepared me for the concert we were about to experience.

At first there was just an empty stage set up with mikes, chairs, percussive instruments, and a grand piano. The crowd milling in twos and threes at a time, a crowd diverse with Santa Feans in their 40s and 50s and older. Not the younger group I'd usually see at other concerts of popular entertainers.

This was different. This was special.

Before we entered the auditorium, I saw many CDs set out, a few vinyl 33 1/3s recalling older times, t shirts, patches with logos and my favorite item, an old standard Zippo lighter with Pink Martini in a small circle on the front. I imagined myself fifty years earlier, whipping out a Newport cigarette to light in Los Angeles, 1960 night club scene, the old fashioned kind one only sees now in movies, the genre ones like LA Confidential or perhaps in the old Hollywood newsreels, the stars out at the Coconut Grove, limos pulling up to see the newest night club rage. But now it is 2011, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we are ready to be transported back to those times.

Lights dim down, we begin to hear a drum, then trombone, solo plaintive, then joined by a trumpet, violin, piano, more drums, building and exploding. And there on the stage, taking us back to another time, a Chanteuse singing in a stylish, slinky, sexy black dress, the light catching her hips swaying, blond, long hair, undulating the song styles of Storm Large, six feet tall oozing rapture, all before us carried in titillating music into another dimension, Brasil, Pink Martini.

During the intermission, my friend and I continued our conversation which began before the performance: how he sang on stage in Los Angeles, in the clubs of the 60s and 70s and how I, in my early years at the ages of 19, 20, 21 performed in coffee houses, playing the blues on my guitar and singing my heart out, Riffs of Motherless Child. Those days revisited in this transforming experience of a group from Oregon called Pink Martini, best described somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brazilian marching street band, and Japanese film noir. Formed in 1994, they continue to take the continent by storm performing in various venues and jazz festivals. Click here:

Consider the possibility of Pink Martini, Los Angeles, Disney Hall, New Years Eve. My friend Sherry did, and who knows. Maybe we'll go there together.

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