Never shaky, routinely stirring, Matt Bianco is back after more than 20 years, making its unusual, burnished jazz.
Packing a 12-piece band, Basia Trzetrzelewska, Mark Reilly, and Danny White, a.k.a. imaginary spy Matt Bianco, will perform at the Allen Theatre on Sunday, April 10, as part of a two-month tour. Reilly, the male vocalist, is ready.
"Things probably go in cycles," Reilly says from London. "When we first came out with the Matt Bianco album (Whose Side Are You On?) in 1984, no one in America was interested; there was no radio format for it. Now, it fits in, and in the '80s and '90s, Basia was one of the artists who broke the mold."
Matt Bianco's influences -- Latin jazz, pop-fusion -- haven't changed, but "We've made an album in a slightly more adult way, because we're slightly more adult."
He's referring to Matt's Mood, a svelte, dry collection spanning the uplifting "Ordinary Day," the frisky and harmonically unusual "Kaleidoscope," and "Matt's Mood III," a tricky, virtuoso instrumental. It's accessible stuff and more; there's something stealthy about the way Matt Bianco harmonizes, something refreshingly off-kilter about its insidious melody lines.
After the first album, which showcased Basia's smoky, weirdly Brazilian voice (she's a Pole), the chanteuse launched a successful solo career in America, and White and another musician, Mark Fisher, carried on with Matt Bianco. Because of the continuing sales of the first MB album, Reilly and White kept in touch. But it wasn't until 2002 that all three originals agreed to revive the Matt Bianco project.
"We all do the writing," Reilly says. "It's one of the things we decided when we first got back together." He and White compose the backing tracks, save them on a computer, and then send the files to Basia. "Basia likes to do the vocals by herself," Reilly says.
"At the end of the day, we like good songs," he continues. "I know we've been promoted through the smooth-jazz format of the radio, but I think what we wanted to do was make a contemporary record. We've brought certain elements into it to keep things interesting for us and other people."