Pink Martini has two projects out in November 

Portland’s classy Pink Martini will be hitting Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on Nov. 20. And they’ve got two great projects to promote — both streeting on Nov. 1 via their own imprint Heinz Records.

The first is a 21-cut greatest-hits anthology, “A Retrospective,” featuring cabaret-cool cameos from Michael Feinstein, Georges Moustaki and even director Gus Van Sant in his singing debut. All, of course, chiming in with the band’s own China Forbes (who’s taken a leave of absence for vocal cord surgery; Lucy Woodward and Storm Large have been filling in for her on the road).

But the second record proves even more intriguing.

According to band keyboardist Thomas Lauderdale, years ago he was rifling through record store bins when he came across the surreal 1969 debut from Japanese singer Saori Yuki, with a title that translated to “Scat In The Dark” (no jokes, please).

Cut to 2007, when Pink Martini decided to cover Yuki’s “Taya Tan” for their “Hey Eugene!” disc, then fast-forward to 2010, when — on their first tour of Asia — the group was contacted by Yuki’s manager, saying she adored their version and wanted to meet with them in Japan. After which, Yuki duetted with Forbes onstage in Tokyo on “Taya Tan,” tracked a Japanese take of “White Christmas” for PM’s “Joy To The World” holiday set, did a benefit single with them last March — “Yuuzuki” for Japanes earthquake relief — and finally recorded an entire album with Lauderdale and company, “1969,” featuring songs made famous that year.

Yuki will even be appearing with ink Martini on certain dates. Not in the Bay Area, unfortunately. But you can get a free download of their “Mas Que Nada” at

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Tom Lanham

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