Saturday Night Music, December 12, 2009: Basia, “Cruising for Bruising,” 1989
I’m glad she’s just known as Basia.
Her full name is Barbara Trzetrzelewska, and I have to remember that it’s pronounced che-che-lev-ska. She was born in Poland 55 years ago on September 30. Basia came into my consciousness with the CD Time and Tide; I love her voice. It’s both sophisticated- and youthful-sounding–a child woman singing jazzy pop. Whenever she happens to come on the radio, my heart just soars along with her three-octave voice. I was in love with someone when this CD was released, of course, and so I remember that time and how alive I felt.
Sure enough, according to Basia trivia, Time and Tide was about Basia’s love affair with Danny White, her longtime collaborator. (White is the brother of Peter White, who was the keyboardist for Scottish singer Al Stewart of Year of the Cat fame, and supposedly, another progenitor of the smooth jazz idiom.) London Warsaw New York, however, chronicled the breakup of that relationship.
White continues as Basia’s collaborator.
Basia alternates among ballads, bossa-nova (she digs the seminal vocalist Astrud Gilberto), jazz and pop. I find it interesting, at this writing, that Basia appeared about the same time as Sade, another smooth jazz vocalist I like, and groups like Everything But the Girl and Swing Out Sister whose early work defy easy definition and wasn’t so easily mainstreamed.
This is from Basia’s second album, London Warsaw New York, which also features an amazing cover of “Til You Come Back to Me, That’s What I’m Going to Do,” “Brave New Hope,” and my favorite, “Not An Angel” (which, unfortunately, is not on You Tube). Basia has made a recent comeback after leaving music in 1998. The reason: she didn’t feel like singing anymore. Some say that it was because she suffered many personal losses in the Nineties, including the deaths of her mother and older brother. Her newest CD is called It’s That Girl Again, on the Koch label, and it was released in March of this year to great excitement and acclaim in the U.S. It’s her first since 1994’s The Sweetest Illusion fifteen years ago.
Basia is the mother of a long-grown son, Mikolaj, who was born in 1977. She probably has grandkids by now.