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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
Arts & Music

Jazz, pop and Latin styles will collide when Pink Martini plays Straz


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China Forbes doesn’t mind sharing her gig as the frontperson with vocalist Storm Large. She actually loves divvying up the job.

“It’s a great situation for a working mother,” Forbes said during a phone call from Bloomington, Ind. “I continue to sing with Pink Martini, but there are times Storm goes out with the band and I can remain home with my son, who is only 5 years old. We’re working together. Storm might do one leg of the tour and I’ll do another.”

Forbes left the quirky lounge act in 2011 for vocal surgery. Pink Martini connected with a reluctant Large. “When the offer arrived, I didn’t want to do it,” Large recalled during a phone call from Los Angeles. “But (pianist) Thomas (Lauderdale) insisted. I said, ‘I never heard your music.’ He said it didn’t matter. And he was right. I love it!”

Pink Martini is an eccentric Portland, Oregon, based band that makes jazz, pop and Latin.

“This group is so unique,” Forbes said. “I can’t compare it to any other act.”

Forbes and Large recorded with the band on “Get Happy,” the group’s latest album, which dropped in September. The album is filled with eclectic, wistful, melancholy songs.

“It was a joy to work on this album,” Forbes said. “It’s a blast to play the new and old songs on the road.”

The sultry Forbes will perform with Pink Martini on Sunday at the Straz Center. “I’m having the best time I’ve ever had with the band on the road,” Forbes said. “We’re like family.”

Forbes is stressing that she’s completely over any vocal trouble. “Some people out there are still writing that I’m missing time with Pink Martini because I’m having issues with my voice,” Forbes said. “I want to set the record straight that I’m fine.”

Another misconception is that Forbes and Large have problems with each other.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Large said. “China is awesome. We get along so well, and it’s really amazing. What she went though is like watching a woman leave her husband for a year, and when she comes back to him the husband says, “I’m glad you’re back, but I’m marrying the other woman as well. I think people expect us to scratch our eyes out, but it’s not that way at all.”

Forbes laughed when she heard how Large described their relationship. “That’s so funny, and it’s so true,” Forbes said. “Storm and I co-exist easily. We get along well, and we realize that it’s all about the music. It’s not about us. We’re serving the music, and we’re having a great time with it. We’re both thrilled to be with Pink Martini. It’s the perfect situation. I’m in there now. I get to go to Tampa and sing some of my favorite songs, and we get to have the Von Trapps out with us.”

The Von Trapps, touring behind their recent release “Dream A Little Dream,” will perform with Pink Martini. “It’ll be fun,” Forbes said. “We collaborated with them on their album. They’re wonderful.”

The siblings Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp are the great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp. “It’s fun doing a show and they’re part of it,” Forbes said. “It spices things up.”

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