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Matt Bianco

 B i o g r a p h y

Matt Bianco is: Basia Trzetrzelewska, Mark Reilly and Danny White, all original members of the band, which arrived on the music scene back in the early eighties.

“We were mixing jazz with Latin rhythms and pop, but we weren’t sure if anyone would get us” recalls Mark. Landing a two single deal with Warner Brothers, they released their debut recording in 1984, the incredibly catchy "Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed", which went straight into the Top 20 at Number 15. “It was very exciting,” Mark continues. “We took off all around Europe”. The single, which became their signature, was inspired by a saying Mark’s dad used to holler at him every morning. “It must be a Scottish thing, he’s from Glasgow,” he laughs, “but I’d wake up every morning to him yelling, ‘get out of your lazy bed!’” The single "Sneaking Out The Back Door" followed, taken from their inaugural album Whose Side Are You On. It wasn’t just the pop fans, who were buying Matt Bianco, they appealed also to the more discerning jazz listeners.

The group had formed out of the ashes of the trend setting band Blue Rondo A La Turk. Mark wanted to further experiment with jazz, and teaming up with ex-Turk keyboardist Danny White, started to pen some songs.
“We felt we needed a female singer,” recalls Mark. “Danny then came up with the idea of getting Basia involved – he’d been working with her since 1981 and they’d already honed a creative partnership.”
“I’d come over to England in 1981”
explains the Polish born singer. “I answered an advert Danny had placed in the Melody Maker for a singer for his group Bronze, a funk outfit, very influenced by Quincy Jones’s work at that time. We’ve worked together ever since. I grew up in Jaworzno, a small industrial town in the South of Poland. Every year there is a music festival with performances from the world of jazz, classical and pop music. Although the town only has 100,000 inhabitants – it produced many excellent musicians. It was a good place to grow up in.” Basia’s husky, brazilian inflected vocal tones recalled that of Astrud Gilberto and provided the perfect foil for Mark’s more fat, pop delivery.
“When I heard her audition,” says Mark, “she caught my breath. I knew we’d found the missing piece of the musical jigsaw.”

The group’s name – Matt Bianco – reveals another influence. “He was a made up spy, a secret agent; we loved spy TV themes and film scores”. Hence "Matt’s Mood" and "Matt’s Mood II" on their debut LP, two groovy instrumentals that could quite easily have been utilized on a 60s atmospheric soundtrack. After success with the single "Half A Minute", the group went their separate ways. Danny and Basia released five albums under the name Basia to huge acclaim, especially in the States and the Far East, while Mark recruited pianist Mark Fisher in 1985 and had continuing success under the Matt Bianco banner, going on to release a further seven albums.

Matt’s Mood, 2004

“It was funny, we’d all been thinking about each other,” says Mark. “Danny came down to my studio to say hello one day and we just took it from there.” After infecting Basia with the idea of reforming Matt Bianco in its original line-up, the result is the CD you now have in your hands, which many are claiming should have been the second Matt Bianco LP.
“We listened to our debut and couldn’t get over how fresh and immediate it still sounded. It seemed to fit in better now with the surrounding climate than it did at the time,” says Mark. With the likes of Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall and Norah Jones’s new jazz sounds high in the UK charts, it seems Matt Bianco fell foul of being too ahead of their time.

An inspiring factor in the making of the new album ‘Matt’s Mood’ was the inclusion of saxophonist Ronnie Ross, whose playing was an integral part of the sound of their debut album, but who sadly died over a decade ago.
“Ronnie had a wonderful jazz pedigree and when he died we realised just how under-appreciated he was. Although many people would have heard him on Lou Reed’s "Walk on the Wild Side", we believe he deserves more exposure. We had some unused recordings of him which we incorporated into three new songs, "Ronnie’s Samba", "La Luna" and "Slip & Sliding” explains Danny. "Ronnie’s Samba" is a wonderfully light jazz samba, while "Slip & Sliding" recalls Antonio Carlos Jobim’s collaborations with Nelson Riddle and "La Luna" is an intoxicating and bright cocktail of cha-cha and pop. The album also includes the forthcoming single, "Ordinary Day".
“This for me sums up Matt Bianco,” says Mark. “It has a really nice bossa groove, Basia’s vocal is so inviting. It just chose itself as the single.” Contrastingly, "Wrong Side Of The Street", a Nina Simone styled blues, has a more sinister, rough edge to it.
“It’s very filmic, the Polish lyric adds mystique and its message is very moving. I can’t help getting a little choked whenever I hear it” explains Basia. Elsewhere, "Matt’s Mood III" is a cool uptempo instrumental, while "Kaleidoscope" conjures up images of smoky jazz bars populated with beautiful torch singers and "Golden Days" recalls the later period of Georgie Fame.

The group is also planning to tour – it will be the first time the three of them have been live on stage as Matt Bianco . “It will be so exciting to experience our songs injected with the energy of a live performance” enthuses Basia, “the chemistry between us works.” One listen to this album and you’ll know she’s right.

 A l b u m s

The Best of Matt Bianco (WEA Records, 1990)