Joy to the World
Let’s start with the packaging because this Christmas offering by Pink Martini, the Portland, Ore., retro band, is presented with gorgeous and graphically clever cover art. But the packaging is just a visual prelude to the aural delights on the CD itself, beginning with a beautiful rendition of “White Christmas,” sung by the Martini’s chanteuse, China Forbes. Anyone who had the pleasure of catching the band at either of its two Laxson Auditorium appearances in recent years knows the kind of time-tripping these musicians engage in as they re-create the illusion of being in a glitzy night club back in the 1930s. Thomas Lauderdale, the pianist and leader, scours old music bins throughout the world for novelties and forgotten tunes, then rearranges them and brings them back to life. Making old things new again is the group’s shtick, so what better band to reinvigorate some of the songs we’ve heard so often at this season of the year? In keeping with the band’s reputation for eclecticism, there’s a “Ukrainian Bell Carol”; a song taken from the words of a Yiddish prayer; Verdi’s “La Vergine Degli Angeli”; and a melodic reinvention of “We Three Kings.” The album closes with “Auld Lang Syne,” sung in English and French. It’s a welcome addition to anyone’s personal canon of Christmas music. Nice job, Pinksters.