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Pop Music Review

Mendes, Pink Martini Bring Lounge to the Bowl

July 22, 2002|ERNESTO LECHNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The lounge revival of the '90s has given us plenty of campy fun--and a bunch of Martin Denny reissues. But the newly emerged genre has also allowed us an opportunity to reevaluate pop innovators such as Sergio Mendes, and enjoy the beautiful creations of new groups like Pink Martini.

Lounge and its bubbly, tongue-in-cheek mystique were at the core of Friday's show at the Hollywood Bowl, where Pink Martini and Mendes performed accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with Charles Floyd conducting.

In the case of Pink Martini, the combination was irresistible. Led by pianist Thomas Lauderdale, the 11-piece ensemble has always exhibited an orchestral approach in its arrangements, going as far as beginning its shows with a stripped-down, jazzy version of Ravel's "Bolero."

On "Que Sera Sera," the orchestra's sweeping strings, Lauderdale's minimalist, haunting piano line and China Forbes' crystalline singing created a phantasmagoric effect, as if Doris Day had teamed up with Tim Burton for a Halloween flick.

Across the spectrum, Mendes and his combo favor fuller, more conventional arrangements that can sound a bit muddy. Whereas Pink Martini throws itself to lounge with restraint, Mendes clutters his arrangements with unflattering keyboard sounds and over-the-top sax solos. Still, there was a lot to enjoy in Mendes' fluffy extravaganza.

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