Eleventh Album of Jazzpoppers Matt Bianco
When Mark Fisher, after the release of Echoes in 2003 announced his amicable departure from the project he's been supervising musically with his mate Mark Reilly for almost 17 years, the couple of remaining MB fans heaved a sigh, looked at their CD and Vinyl collection full of Matt Bianco stuff and thought: "Well, that's that then". After 20 years, 10 albums, uncountable third party "best of" compilations and a shift of the fan base from excitable western teenagers to middle aged south - east Asians (and a remaining hard core of European and American fans) this was surely the end.
Well, it wasn't.
Founding member Mark Reilly gave the other two founding members a call, and the group reformed in its original lineup: Chanteuse Basia, fed up with obscurity after being dropped by Sony, and her long time collaborator and composer, pianist Danny White (brother of Smooth Jazz and elevator music hero Peter White) joined Reilly to pick up where they left 1984, after splitting following the success that was the amazing and ground breaking Whose side are you on?. The three of them locked themselves into Reilly's studio in north west London, started composing and got the usual brillant range of studio musicians together for what would be their comeback album: Incognito veterans Kevin Robinson and Andrew Ross, the aforementioned Peter White and more all absolutely sparkle on this production that was helped along by their friendly (studio) neighbour, Sade's Andrew Hale. To coincide with the reunion they even convinced a Universal Records to sign them for their arty EmArcy label and relaunch them globally. Not that they needed a comeback, as Matt Bianco was never gone, but tell that someone who last heard of them in 1985.
So, plenty to look forward to in album!
But, do the songs actually keep up with all the bruhaha?
Well, yes and no. Let me explain:
After 9 albums with Mark Fisher doing the main composing, this doesn't actually sound like a Matt Bianco album. Gone are the upbeat pop gems, the club tracks, Mark FIsher's distinct harmonies and the "latino on acid" style that the two perfectioned over 9 albums. Gone are also the sometimes cringeworthy lyrics and repetitive fillers that would appear on every MB album, scheduled and on time like a Lufthansa flight.
Matt's Mood sounds like what is was always going to be: a Danny White record with the man at the top of his game, giving Basia the chance to shine with her typical jazzy vocal arrangements and her unusual, quite beautiful voice, even letting her sing a couple of lines in polish. This is definitely an album for adults, as teenagers and pop-fans would quickly fall asleep during the albums measured, slow-paced latino ballads. It all sounds like a Basia album, with Reilly's voice showing up at times but feeling weirdly out of place on his own record.
The album does have a couple of very nice touches, though: the late Ronnie Ross, Saxophonist to all the rock gods there are (he played on Lou Reed's "Walk on the wild side" and taught, for god's sake, the sax to David Bowie) played baritone saxophone on the first two Matt Bianco albums, and the group preserved some unreleased material which was included (with his families agreement) on this album. The highlight of the album is certainly "Ronnie's Samba", a light hearted tribute to the great man which is light and fluffy like, well, a real Matt Bianco record.
Matt Bianco: Matt's Mood. Released on EmArcy, 2004.
written and produced by Danny White, Basia and Mark Reilly