You've probably heard them, even if you haven't heard of them. Pink Martini's music has been heard on TV's "The West Wing" and "The Sopranos" — and even on a Starbuck's CD.

And this weekend, the band will be heard with the Utah Symphony.

"The music is really very romantic," said Pink Martini's founder and artistic director Thomas Lauderdale, "and it's really romantic in that old Hollywood 1940s musical style. So it seems natural, really, to add an orchestra to help everything soar that much more.

"It's like those old Fellini films like '8 1/2' or 'La Dolce Vita.' It adds to the sweep and the romance and high drama."

By phone from his home in Oregon, Lauderdale said the band began 10 years ago, playing at political functions. His intention was actually to become mayor of Portland, but he would go to fund-raisers and other functions where there were terrible rock 'n' roll bands or deejays.

"I thought, where's the great 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' soundtrack, that sort of cozy, conversationally friendly, musical wallpaper?' "

Although Lauderdale said Pink Martini began as a lark, the band gradually became much more serious. The group grew from four people to "anywhere between 10 and 12," and their first CD, "Sympathique," sold about 250,000 copies worldwide.

Although he says that he's still caught up in Oregon and national politics, right now his place is with the band. "Running for office is a full-time commitment, and so is running this band."

The scope of the music changed over time, too. "The original intent was to become wallpaper, and I guess now we've become the furniture." He was quick to add, however, that Pink Martini's intent is to provide beautiful music that is accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. "I think also in the culture in the United States, we've lost our ability to sing and dance.

"And I think that's something that's inherent in humanity. So I think the band is really a return to the dance floor, a return to the street, a return to beautiful melodies and hopefully a return to beautiful lyrics and a certain sense of grace and beauty, which is largely not aspired to in this culture at this point."

The band's latest project, Lauderdale said, is the release of its upcoming CD, "Hang On, Little Tomato." Like the previous album, this will be released on Pink Martini's own label, Heinz, which is named after Lauderdale's dog. "(It's) a lot of the same, a bit of new. The difference is, primarily, that we've written the bulk of the songs on this next record. And that's a challenge, because on our first record, there were so many great pieces from which to choose.

"How does one compete with Maurice Ravel's 'Bolero?' or 'Que Sera, Sera?' "

If you go ...

What: Pink Martini, Utah Symphony

Where: Abravanel Hall

When: Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m

How much: $22-$45

Phone: 355-2787 or 1-888-451-2787

Web:www.utahsymphonyopera.org


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com