Pink Martini

Hang on Little Tomato

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It would be easy to liken Pink Martini's music to the lounge and swing revivals of the '90s. However, the 12-piece mini-orchestra's mix of jazz, classical, Latin, and vocal pop sounds more organic than the work of, say, Combustible Edison. Like the Squirrel Nut Zippers -- who were always more than just a straightforward swing revival band -- Pink Martini do more than just rehash their influences; by dabbling in different sounds that they love, they've come up with their own. And even on the most theatrical moments of their second album, Hang On Little Tomato, such as the Yma Sumac-meets-chamber jazz of "U Plavu Zoru" or the smoky Italian ambience of "Una Notte a Napoli," a lot of genuine sentiment shines through. Though most of Hang On Little Tomato -- named after a vintage Hunt's Ketchup ad -- consists of originals, a few well-chosen covers stake out Pink Martini's sonic territory: the festive "Anna (El Negro Zumbon)"; Villa-Lobos' "Song of the Black Swan"; a downright swellegant version of "Let's Never Stop Falling in Love"; and "Kikuchiyo to Moshimasu," which features Hiroshi Wada, the slide guitarist who played on the original recording of the song. Amid all the multiculturalism, Hang On Little Tomato emphasizes the French and Cuban elements of Pink Martini's sound, with "Dansez-Vous" and the lovely "Autrefois" nodding to the former, and the ever-so-slightly mischievous ballad "Lilly" tipping its hat to the latter. The album's moods are almost as wide-ranging as its sounds, spanning the innocence of the title track's '30s pop and the Bacharach-esque sweetness of "Clementine" to the world-weary "Veronique" to the smoky romance of "Aspettami." A more full-fledged album than the band's debut Sympathique, Hang On Little Tomato offers a charmingly populist approach to music.

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