Basia at Highline Ballroom
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The Polish-born Basia crossed the Iron Curtain in the '80s to become an international pop singer and fixture on "jazz-lite" stations everywhere. Born in the industrial city of Jaworzno, she first performed with the all-female group Ali Babki in 1975, touring the Soviet bloc for two years. In 1979 she moved to Chicago to sing with a cover band in a Polish-American club. Two years later she was in London, singing for the jazz-funk group Bronze. She then joined Matt Bianco, a threesome whose hit record, Whose Side Are You On?, featured a smooth pop blend of jazz and Latin styles. In 1985 Basia left Matt Bianco to go solo, taking keyboardist Danny White with her as cowriter. Her first album, the platinum Time and Tide (#36, 1988), yielded the pop hits "Time and Tide" (#26, 1988) and "New Day for You" (#53, 1989). She continued to explore soul, samba, swing, and bossa nova on London Warsaw New York (#20, 1990), a platinum album that featured the single "Cruising for Bruising" (#29, 1990). The Sweetest Illusion (1994) included more Latin-tinged material, including the salsa-styled "An Olive Tree."
The Sweetest Illusion didn't sell nearly as well as its predecessors, and the singer followed it up with the 1995 live set, Basia on Broadway. Culled from dates during Basia's engagement at New York City's Neil Simon Theatre, the album consists of hits and new material; one track features saxophonist Jay Beckenstein from the MOR jazz combo Spyro Gyra. Basia's 1998 best-of includes four songs previously unreleased in the U.S.