Town Hall hosted Pink Martini, the sprawling cabaret orchestra from Portland, OR, for two fabulous nights this week. Thomas Lauderdale, the group's founder and pianist led the evening, with a parade of special guests (including our own Kim Hastreiter and honorary PM member on cymbal duty!). Principal vocalist China Forbes is recovering from throat surgery, and guest singer Storm Large assumed her role with wit, elegance, and splendid pipes. Japan's Saori Yuki, whom Lauderdale introduced as "the Japanese Barbara Streisand," sang several numbers, including one from their new album together, 1969, a delicate, multi-lingual version of "Puff the Magic Dragon." Lauderdale fondly told a story about discovering and buying one of Yuki's albums in his favorite Portland record store many years ago -- he even brought the old album to show the audience -- and said their collaboration is a dream come true for him. Ari Shapiro, who has moonlighted for a few years with Pink Martini, also sang throughout the evening; in addition to having a perfect voice, face, body, and suit, he's also the White House correspondent for NPR and a talking head on cable news channels -- no big deal.

In the second half of the evening, Paper-BFF Joey Arias was a show-stopper with his humorous rendition of "Santa Baby" (and minor strip-tease), followed by Jewish Cantor
Ida Rae CahanaThere were also trumpet duets, a harp, guitar and double bass solos, a string section, and cool percussion instruments we've never even seen before. Truly, an evening of splendor in Times Square.