Brant Taylor, a longtime Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist, likes to recall his favorite crossover moment.
For seven years, from 2002 to 2009, he toured with the band Pink Martini, the eclectic small orchestra based out of Portland, Ore. (and which will perform March 16 in a SCP Special Concert). After one such run, he returned to Chicago to discover the CSO’s first program of the season featured Ravel’s “Bolero,” a work he had just been performing with Pink Martini. “Within 48 hours or so, I was playing these radically different versions of the same piece,” Taylor recalled with a laugh. “It was a very interesting study in contrasts that only I could appreciate.”
Pink Martini’s slinky, sexy take on Ravel’s classic comes from the musical stylings of bandleader Thomas Lauderdale, who describes PM as “a rollicking around-the-world musical adventure — if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we would be that band.” Taylor, for his part, refers to him as a “musical archeologist.” While Lauderdale’s interests include new takes on old classics, he’s also on the lookout for lost songs more often than not from a foreign country.
So if you happen to be in your favorite record store and spot a man with spiky blond hair, funky glasses and a snappy bowtie, it might be Lauderdale. He “loves the adventure” of searching for unusual music in record stores and flea markets.