My first acquaintance with Pink Martini was when I bought a copy of their first CD, Sympathique, while browsing through an airport record store waiting for a long-delayed flight.

I was immediately taken by the group’s extraordinary versatility, which in the course of a single release cut across just about every kind of music from lounge, vaguely retro sorts of music, often with a Latin edge to it, but with the improvisational character of top-flight jazz.

The beat, on the other hand, surely comes straight from the house music craze. A bit of everything.

Things ambled along quietly for years, until the band’s subsequent releases, Hang On Little Tomato (2004) and Hey Eugene! (2007) generated huge new interest that’s seen them hit the touring trail for much of the past few years. Finally, they’re coming Down Under.

And I know the band is really excited about it, Pink Martini pianist and founder Thomas Lauderdale says.

We’re there for about 10 days, I think, in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, then we go off to Auckland, and even though it’s not the longest time, there’s some time to spare so we’ll get to see a few things, maybe get a taste of some things we’d like to do some other time.

Lauderdale’s previous experiences have been action-packed in themselves.

I was in Sydney last year accompanying Meow Meow which was great fun, so I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time in Australia, but not everyone in the group has been able to visit, so they’re all looking forward to it, he said.

Pink Martini’s 2008 tour coincides with a new round of promotion of their third album, Hey Eugene!, but it covers more territory.

It’s not a scripted show, more a collection of songs. I think there’s stuff from all of our albums in the program, Lauderdale said.

And some songs that we haven’t recorded yet as well. What we try to do is make a Pink Martini concert a whole experience, so you’ll find our performances are quite theatrical (though not as theatrical as Meow Meow, let me assure you) and fun.

We know we’ve got a lot of fans in Australia, and we’re looking forward to performing for them, but also we want to introduce ourselves to people who haven’t heard us before and hopefully they’ll like what they hear as well. It’s more festive with more people, it’s a real party. That’s a win for everyone.

Pink Martin will play at the State Theatre on 6 January from 8pm. Bookings: 1300 723 038. They will then play Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre on 8 January from 8pm. Bookings: 8839 3399.

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