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.
Years back in Portland, Oregon, 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 his first listen he was immediately struck by Yuki's soaring soprano and the gorgeous melodies on the album. 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 gorgeous 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.
In March this year, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that decimated Japan, Thomas 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. This began the collaboration that would ultimately result in 1969.
The album features hits from Japan, like the widely popular "Blue Light Yokohama," kayokyoku classic "Yuuzuki (Evening Moon)," a groovy, urban version of "Mayonaka no Bossa Nova (Midnight Bossa Nova)," and a percussive Pink Maritni-esque recording of Saori Yuki's most famous song "Yoake no Scat (Melody For A New Dawn)." In addition, Yuki brings her soaring vocals to international hits like Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada" which was first sung in Japanese by Astrud Gilberto, Peter Paul & Mary's "Puff, The Magic Dragon" in an arrangement inspired by Tiny Tim's "Tip-toe Through The Tulips," and Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is," written by Jerry Leiber + Mike Stoller and inspired by the 1896 Thomas Mann poem "Disillusionment." Also included are more obscure songs like "Du soleil plein les yeux (Eyes Full Of Sun)," marking Yuki's first recording in French, sung here as a duet with Pink Martini's Timothy Nishimoto, and a brand new song "Kisetsu no Ashioto (Footsteps Of The Seasons)."