An auspicious inaugural season for a brilliantly re-purposed Queens venue.


by Joel Benjamin

 August 7, 2015. Steven Reineke and his New York Pops ventured out of Carnegie Hall to the Forest Hills Stadium, inaugurating a welcome new concert series at this brilliantly re-purposed Queens venue. The well-known West Coast ensemble, Pink Martini, directed by Thomas M. Lauderdale, joined the Pops for a colorful, sexy, vibrant show, perfect for a balmy summer night.


Pink Martini has an extensive repertoire that varies from fiery Latin to American Songbook to jazz to Japanese pop. They are, however, grounded in the classics which was made clear in two songs that were built on themes of Schubert: “And Then You’re Gone” (Hunter Nowack/Lauderdale), sung by the voluptuous-voiced temptress Storm Large and its comic retort, “But Now I’m Back” (T. Lauderdale), performed with macho swagger by the hip swaying Timothy Nishimoto who also danced and sang his way through “Dónde Estás, Yolanda?” (Manuel Jimenez), an upbeat love song about the errant lady of the title, featuring a terrific solo by trombonist Robert Taylor.


Taylor later laid down his instrument to sing a quietly touching “She Was Too Good to Me” (Rodgers/Hart). In fact, all the members of Pink Martini played instruments and sang.


China Forbes, the longtime lead singer of Pink Martini, had a way of embracing the entire stadium with her warm voice and subtle body language. She opened the show with three numbers that displayed her versatility, singing in Spanish (“Amado Mio” from Gilda written by Doris Fisher & Allan Roberts), French (“Sympathique” written by Ms. Forbes & Mr. Lauderdale) and a strange combination of Russian and Italian (“Dosvedanya Mio Bombino” by Moeller/Ridge/Forbes).


P1080028Mlles Forbes and Large sang two songs associated with Doris Day. Ms. Forbes’ “Que Será Será” (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston) was eerily darker than Ms. Day’s while Ms. Large’s “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” (“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”) (Osvaldo Farrés/Joe Davis) had more sexy oomph than Day’s famous version. These two talented singers ended the show with an entwined medley of “Get Happy” (Arlen/Koehler) and “Happy Days Are Here Again” (Ager/Yellen).


Guest artist, Meow Meow, a larger-than-life entertainer with an outrageous hairdo and a glamorously glittery gown, stopped the show with a melodramatic “Ne me quitte pas” (Jacques Brel) performed in a style just short of comedy. She went totally comic in Piaf’s classic “A quoi ça sert l’amour?” (Michel Emer), pulling two hapless, good-natured gents from the audience to embrace, support, grab and provide improvised seating as she wound her bizarre—but extraordinarily entertaining—way through the song.

The New York Pops served more as an enhancer to the much more meager forces of Pink Martini. Certainly it made for a richer sound, but it might have been a good idea for the Pops to have been featured in a number or two of its own, showing off its own strengths and particular repertoire. Otherwise, this was a great evening of sparkling music under a beautiful summer sky.

Photos/Video: Magda Katz


New York Pops with Pink Martini performed at Forest Hills Stadium (1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills, NY). For more information: www.newyorkpops.org & www.pinkmartini.com





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