Pink Martini Review

April 8, 2006

Who? Is it a drink? A BAND? What do they play? Will I like them?

Well, I can answer the first three questions, but the second two are far harder to respond to.

Pink Martini are an eclectic band, both in terms of membership and music. As described by the Bands own bio Somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brazilian marching street band and Japanese film noir is the 12-piece Pink Martini. Part language lesson, part Hollywood musical, the Portland Oregon-based ‘little orchestra’ was created in 1994 by Harvard graduate and classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale

 

How did this style of music come to be of interest to the UK MJ scene?

Around 2003 people starting realising that Touch and Go didn’t just do a very suggestive, and very popular, single (“Would you …?). Partly through the persistence of DJ Peter Phillips, became popular. The album remixes of “Straight to Number One” and “Would you ..”. This music was far removed from the likes of Kylie, Enrique etc that seemed to pervade the MJ scene at that time. The many dimensions of the music actually gave the more accomplished dancers something to play with … and supported the growing movement towards dancing to the music rather than just executing a series of moves.

The ‘new’ Touch and Go is Pink Martini. Their music has been increasingly played on the London scene and has also caught the attention of the Scottish Ceroc scene. The tracks mainly played on the dance floor are ‘Amando Amio’, ‘Donde Estas’ and ‘Never stop falling in love’ though other tracks such as ‘Lily’ and ‘Hang on Little Tomato’ also have real potential. Aside from the MJ music, their other tracks are, to the believers, awesome … and synthesis of such different style that it really shouldn’t work …. But it DOES.

 

And so …. With a real sense of impending pleasure, I sat down for the Pink Martini gig a few weeks ago at the Barbican. I had seen them only last October (with around 25 of the London MJ set) and had been mightily impressed. Despite there was no new album, and I expected them to play a very similar set, I was up for ‘likin it’.

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The first surprise was a change in the band line up. Last time there were two in the brass section and a single violin … this time there was only one brass but the addition of a cello player, a visiting member Claude Giron’s from Orchestre de Paris, and what an addition she was …. But more on that later.

 

Things were also different from the start, the opening track, “Never stop falling in love” had a different vibe, a more Carnival feeling … not sure if I preferred it to the album version, but it was great fun. They moved through another few tracks on wonderful form … the voice of China Forbes is something to behold ….. it reaches places that you wouldn’t think possible.

The band themselves are animated enough to do away with any need for flash multimedia screens or backing dancers. The drums section especially look like they are all just this side of being certified … a brilliant, zany edge to them .,… people who love the beat they are belting out … all like a bunch of naughty schoolboys who have been let loose in the school chemistry lab to see what havoc they can create. These are the guys you really want to go to a tequila bar with and know that fun is sure to follow.

 

 

 

On backing vocals Timothy Nishimoto, seemed more subdued than the last gig … but his vocals are still a delight. On the piano was the main man Thomas M. Lauderdale,again with the feeling of a naughty schoolboy, really genuinely delighted to be able to bring this music to the masses. Gavin Bondy on the trumpet as usual was superb. A strong figure himself, his contribution by way of music was equally impressive.
China leading the vocals
Aside from the usual delights, one the high spots for me was a hard hitting rift during a ‘Lily’ from Dan Faehnle on the semi-acoustic guitar. Though he was part of the assemble last time I don’t even remember him being there … this time however, his superb supporting rhythm and occasional rifts were most welcome.

 

 

 

 

However, my outstanding memory was at the start of ‘U Plavu Zoru’. I must admit that on the CD I’ve usually skipped the intro, its never really held anything for me. Not after the concert. Claude Giron’s cello took the brought a whole new delight to the track. A friend recently said to that good art takes you to another place, one that you know, whereas great art takes you to a new place that you never knew existed. That cello solo was definitely in the later category. It was a piece that I never wanted to stop, literally causing tears to well up …. And then China’s voice came in like warm chocolate on a naked girls back ….. a wonderful rendition.

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Overall, what really struck me is that the albums, though treasured, do not do true justice to the band. Maybe it’s the production or just the limit of CD technology … but you HAVE TO hear Pink M live to appreciate just how good they are.

 

 

 

Its something about the stage presence, you don’t feel that you are 50’ away … you feel that these performers are friends who’ve dropped round to your house party and just started jamming. They manage to bring with their music a sense of intimacy that brings you in makes you feel part of it. In the cold light of day there are some of their tracks that aren’t my real cup of tea … BUT, once you are there, with Pink M playing before you, you only want to hear everything they play and never want the night to end.

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The best news of the night is that they intend to release a third album later this year and will be on tour in Europe again. Make sure you book your tickets early!

Visit the Band at www.PinkMartini.com

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News and Rumours – April

April 8, 2006

Well, first of all lets start with the latest BIG rumour we’ve heard. Apparently the word being passed round is that Ceroc HQ have bought all the LeRoc clubs in Bristol for £3m!!! Amazing news, would be even more amazing if there was any truth in it. That is more than it is believed it cost to buy the WHOLE of Ceroc™ when it was sold by its founders in 2004. The other slight flaw in the story is that LeRoc is loose federation of individual clubs, not a single organisation … oh, that and the fact that all the aforementioned clubs are still being run as LeRoc !

So … other rumours? I’ve been reliably informed that the entire Blitz organisation has been sold on to a key franchisee and that Ceroc Nantwich has been sold on … of course these two rumours are as factual as the rumour that Elvis has been spotted and is setting up a Modern Jive club in Accrington, playing only his greatest hits!

 

Any proper rumours?

Ceroc’s move into the Weekender market has caused a bit of a stir. After the huge success of their STORM weekender, the word on the street is that Ceroc will be putting on 8 weekenders next year. If true this is sure to have an impact on the current market. Apparently the number of weekenders is only limited by the amount of meteorological words that can be used (current events have been names ‘Storm’ and ‘Breeze’).

We are anticipating, ‘Gale Force 7’, Tornado, ‘Mild Flatulence’ and ‘El Nino’ with sponsorship coming from Tums. However, in coming to the 8, its unclear whether this number while include Ceroc’s existing portfolio of events including MJC, Rebel Yell and the Ceroc Spain weekenders.

 

On the southern scene, major changes at Jango …. Well actually it’s a case of back to the beginning. DJ TWK is moving on to do his own thing (Funky Lush) after a year of so of DJing at this Monday uber-club. At the same time the much loved Will & Kate teaching team are stepping down. This paves the way for Amir, the originator of Jango to return to running the venture. He will be teaching with Kate with DJ Sheepman manning the decks. May the fun continue.

 

Anticipation builds for the Ceroc Championships. There are many looking forward to the rematch of newcomers Simon Rich & Nicole v the established champion couple Phil & Yuko. This mouth-watering competition should be made even more interesting if Will and Kate are entering. There is still the possibility for an unknown couple to emerge from obscurity and produce an upset. The awesome Scottish couple, James and Melanie are also a force to be reckoned with.

As usual, if you hear anything interesting or you are in a position to confirm or rubbish a rumour, pleased feel free to contact us at On8.co.uk


Ceroc Champs – 1999

April 3, 2006

The place was the Empire, Leicester Square and the time was 1999.. the first Ceroc championships. Like the vast majority of the 1000 or so dancers there, it was all very new. Coming from the relative backwater of Ceroc Stoke, I had no idea what the competition scene was like … and to be truthful very few there did …. Outside a small elite, competition in MJ was very new, to some an anathema (in those days the Ceroc Teacher contacts still had a clause banning them from taking part on competitions).

I was still feeling quite chuffed. My partner and I has competed in the intermediates and had got through the first round … much to our amazement. We had now secured a great position on the balcony to watch the event that had really caught our attention, the Spotlight a couple dancing a pre-choreographed routine to their chosen track. What all my friends were waiting for was Steve and his partner Lucy. We had seen a preview of their routine at Ceroc Stafford the previous week. A nice and simple routine based around Saturday Night Never … Steve in the compulsory John Travolta White and black suit, his partner in a lovely halter neck dress that splayed out in fine style every time she spun. They were ok intermediates … nothing special … but at that time that’s about as good as it got in our region. We had no reason to believe that everyone else was not at the same standard.

So … as we waited for Steve and Lucy, apparently on as the second couple, a totally unknown couple (coached by now legendary Sue Freeman) walked into the arena …. Dan and Lisa. They looked very strange. Cyber/punk outfits …. The guy had real odd hair, heavily tattooed … definitely not your typical middle class Ceroc type. And instead of starting form the regulation upright position facing each other they started from the floor! My concerns at this stage were nothing compared to my disbelief when the music started …. Like a raw remix from the Matrix … harsh, loud and totally undanceable.

Except for Dan and Lisa. In the next 4 minutes I had everything I ‘knew’ about MJ dance blown away. It was hard, aggressive, different ……beautiful!…. An amazing fusion of street, hi-hop dance with MJ and Lindy moves. we saw the best EVER execution of ‘travelling washing machine move’ (don’t try this at home!) …. At the end of it I knew I’d witnesses something very special;. The crowd went berserk …. a truly deafening response and I shouted approval along with everyone around me … we knew we’d seen history made. It was truly an awesome cabaret, in my humble opinion, in all the years of competition since no-one has come even close to matching it.

 

Then the cheering stuck in my throat as the next couple walked out …. Steve and Lucy. They were now standing in the loneliest place on the planet …. With clear dance floor surrounding them they were looking out on all sides at a thousand plus dancers, knowing full well that their routine was massively inferior to the display that had just been seen. And from the way Steve stood trying to get his composure everyone in the audience knew it aswell. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach … I knew what was going to happen … Steve was not the most confident of characters. They would struggle through the opening bars of the sequence, make a few mistakes then just loose it … or he was going to do what I know I would have done, let the nerves get to him and just flee the floor before the grotesque humiliation began. The seconds of silence that passed before the music to start weighed heavily in the air.

And then the routine started. The Night Fever music started Steve looked up, and something happened I never expected to happen … he smiled. He shuffled into the simplistic routine, threw in a few hip shimmies and did what he came to do ….. and the crowd loved it. By the time he threw in a very basic first move drop he got rapturous applause as if he’d just executed a double doughnut aerial! At the end of the routine they left the floor to a thunderous round of applause that nearly matched that for Dan and Lisa. People knew what Steve and Lucy had achieved, realised just how much guts it took form them to go through with the routine, and they thanked them for it … a truly wonderful response.

 

The memory of that performance still brings tears to my eyes. I suppose it was an epiphany, a realisation what the Modern Jive world should be all about. Rapturous praise both for those who can create living art on the dance floor AND for those who have gone out, done their best and enjoyed it. Despite all the politics and disappointments since that wonderful day, these memories keep me going, keep my faith and I still remember Steve’s glowing grin as he left the arena …. Steve and Lucy will never known that feeling of being ‘the best’ dancers but I bet no amount of gold medals could match the applause and support they received that afternoon in Hammersmith.

 

Dan and Lisa’s routine can be seen on the Ceroc Championships Compilation DVD available form Ceroc™..


Fashion Posts

April 3, 2006

This section will bring you the latest looks from the dance floor. Some of which are to die for, some of which to be avoided at all costs!

The fashion of the dancfloor is a moving feast. In the early 90s jeans and T shirts were de rigueur. As the swing influence grew black and white shoes, stripped baggy trousers and braces were to be seen on the most fashionable dancers. Come the start of the new millennium, and promoted by the arrival on the scene of Dan & Lisa, combats and cyber gear (Cyberdog, Punkyfish etc) became fashionable. This led to the birth of a new fashion trend, fashion disasters. When you’re in your 40s/50s, it takes a certain style to dress like a teenager and pull it off …. And sadly many tried and failed.

So …. What are the current dance fashions? Our roving reporters are ceaselessly scouring the land to bring you the new styles and advice …. photos to follow!