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Friday, January 9, 2009



Time And Tide (Epic, 1987)
BASIA

Alright then, before I go telling you, as usual, how good this album is, you need to hear this woman, at least via YouTube:






We mentioned before that Basia has an angel's voice. That voice is as good today as it was in 1987, when Time And Tide came out. Two years earlier, Basia left the Matt Bianco group along with her bandmate -and then boyfriend- Danny White and went to pursue a solo career. That was a very bold move for the splendid female singer after just one album with the band -which continued as a good act led by the sole survivor founder, Mark Reilly- to jump into a pool that might have been empty. But she was so good and innovative her success was assured. Also, her fan base was growing dramatically, waiting to hear something fresh from her.

Basia Trzetrzelewska, a Polish immigrant to the U.K., had her story told in an enhanced and suggestive way in the masterpiece Whose Side Are You On (WEA, 1984) by Matt Bianco. She jumped the Iron Fence for better pastures in the British Shire and sunny beaches in the United States. A few years after this adventure, she's settled in the land of the free to keep singing, and her voice is warmer, smoother and comforting. She has a record deal with Epic (now Sony/BMG) and her first solo album, Time And Tide presents Basia on the spotlight, and having her way completely, although there's almost no difference in style between this album and Matt Bianco's; just a smoot
her, calmer theme in the lyrics, no spy and sneaky stories and no instrumentals. It's a pop album about love, period. But an excellent one indeed.

Some music purists criticize Basia for her crossoverness, mixing pop, jazz and bossanova rhythms in a reckless way that might affect her final score in Billboard... "it sounds too Pop" some might say, or "that isn't real Brazilian." Categorizations here are useless. Just play her melancholic tribute to Mrs. Gilberto, "Astrud" to a Brazilian national and he or she will love the contrast between her contralto voice and the baritone saxophone's seductive triads. "From Now On's" acoustic guitar will make that Brazilian listener shed a tear and then a miracle will occur: East Europe's vocal tradition will blend along with South America's polyrhythms in a honest musical polinization. It was an East-West crossover, successfully made the same way 25 years earlier when Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz recorded
Jazz Samba and introduced the Bossa Nova to American listeners who wanted to hear something different than the Beatles. Both Basia and White are big fans of "The Sound" Getz.

It's useless to resist pop music of this level when the production balances instruments so well it never becomes dull or boring. There are a lot of synthesizers but not on a single moment they overcrowd the speakers, and there are saxophones and trumpets but you won't feel like you're listening a lame Smooth Jazz station. "Moderation, Basia" said her mother and seems like she learned the lesson in the swinging "Miles Away" (whose fingersnaps and tempo suggest a tribute to Miles Davis) and the funked-up "Prime Time TV." Her high pitched voice dominates over the instruments in the final mix and she's directly loud and clear. Her intense vocal chords, without that annoying vibrato, are the primal musical instrument, and the saxes, bouncing synth basses and horns are her faithful sidekicks. Pretty much like Snow White and her dwarfs.

Most of the time we remember her voice double-tracked on the choruses, but when she blasts those fragile longings as in "Promises" and "Time And Tide," we realize she represents the everyday honest woman who wants something more in life other than health, money and love.

Consider me, Javier Moreno, a Basia fan. No matter what they say.

Basia on Amazon.com:

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