Portland, Oregon based « little orchestra » Pink Martini and legendary Japanese singer Saori Yuki have collaborated to record 1969—a collection of songs from the year Yuki’s debut album was released. The 12 tracks will be released October 18th on Audiogram Records in Canada. In celebration of the record, Yuki will join the band on a series of special tour dates this December.
Years ago in Portland, Pink Martini founder and pianist Thomas Lauderdale was thumbing through bins of records at Everyday Music when, intrigued by its gorgeous cover and interesting title (translated to « Scat In The Dark »), he snatched up Saori Yuki’s debut album. Upon first listen he was immediately struck by Yuki’s soaring soprano and the melodies on the album. Many years later, having never met Yuki, Lauderdale and Pink Martini recorded her song « Taya Tan » for their 2007 album Hey Eugene!.
In early 2010, as Pink Martini was preparing for their first tour of Asia, they received a call from Yuki’s manager saying that she had loved the band’s rendition of « Taya Tan » and wanted to meet them when they came to Japan. This first meeting occurred in Tokyo when Yuki joined Pink Martini singer China Forbes on stage for a rendition of « Taya Tan. » Later that year Yuki was invited to sing the first-ever Japanese version of « White Christmas » for Pink Martini’s holiday album Joy To The World.
This past March, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that decimated Japan, Lauderdale reached out to invite Yuki to join Pink Martini in Portland at a benefit performance for the relief efforts in Japan. During her visit to the States, Yuki and Pink Martini also went into the studio to record « Yuuzuki, » a benefit track released by Starbucks and iTunes beginning the collaboration that ultimately would result in 1969.
« It was a great honor to be asked by Saori Yuki San & EMI Japan to work on this album, » says Lauderdale. « The initial concept for the album was ‘Japanese hits from 1969′ but upon doing a bit of research we discovered that every country had something significant going on in 1969. So we decided to broaden the scope in a very Pink Martini way and include songs from around the world sung in different languages. The result is a gorgeous adventure back in time to the year 1969 featuring 12 songs sung in Japanese, French & English. »