Often misconstrued as the stage name of lead singer Mark Reilly, England's Matt Bianco are in fact a jazz, Latin, and lounge music-influenced pop outfit.
Named to sound like a fictional spy character à la James Bond, Matt Bianco were formed in 1982 by former members of the similarly jazz and Latin-infused new wave ensemble Blue Rondo a la Turk. Initially, the group featured Reilly, along with Polish vocalist Basia Trzetrzelewska (who would soon find solo fame), keyboardist Danny White, and bassist Kito Poncioni. The band's 1984 debut, Whose Side Are You On?, fared well, landing just shy of the Top 30, and featured several hits including "Get Out of Your Lazy Bed."
Following the release of Matt Bianco's debut, White and Trzetrzelewska decided to leave the band to focus on the former's burgeoning solo career, and White was replaced by keyboardist Mark Fisher, while longtime backing vocalist Jenni Evans began sharing lead vocal duties with Reilly. This lineup of the group broke through with a rendition of Georgie Fame's 1965 single "Yeh Yeh." Included on 1986's eponymous Matt Bianco, the song peaked at number 13 on the pop singles charts and stayed there for ten weeks, eventually earning the band a European music award as Best Single. Matt Bianco's next album, 1988's Indigo, was produced by Miami Sound Machine's Emilio Estefan, and peaked at number 23 in the U.K. It also spawned several hits, including "Don't Blame It on That Girl" and "Wam Bam Boogie," which became the number one European club track of 1988.
Over the next decade, Matt Bianco found Reilly and Fisher working together primarily as a duo with an increasing interest in Latin, electronic, and adult contemporary sounds. A "best-of" compilation appeared in 1990, followed in 1991 by the studio effort Samba in Your Casa, after which they parted ways with Warner Bros. In 1994, they returned with their fifth studio album, Another Time, Another Place, followed by 1995's Gran Via and 1997's World Go Round. Released in 2000, Rico found the band exploring a blend of acid jazz and traditional Cuban rhythms. Partly recorded in Havana at the studio where Ry Cooder recorded with Buena Vista Social Club, the album included "Cha Cha Cuba," which reached the top of the charts in Japan. Echoes followed two years later.
In 2004, Reilly reunited with original members Trzetrzelewska and White for Matt's Mood. By 2009's HiFi Bossanova, however, the band had returned to a duo featuring Reilly and Fisher. Hideaway followed three years later. Reilly then re-recorded several Matt Bianco tracks for his 2016 solo EP New Cool Collective. That same year, Fisher died at the age of 57.
In 2017, Reilly returned with the band's 15th studio album, Gravity, featuring contributions from Swedish sax and flute player Magnus Lindgren and members of Jamie Cullum's touring ensemble. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi