Bopping To Basia -- Her First Tour In Four Years Begins At Chateau Winery

Concert preview

asia and Spyro Gyra, 7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville; $27.50-$32.50; 628-0888. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Basia is back.

After a long hiatus, the sophisticated pop and jazz singer from England by way of Poland released "The Sweetest Illusion," her first album since 1990, in May, and starts a new tour this weekend, outdoors in the evening air at Chateau Ste. Michelle. She apparently likes to start tours here; her last, in 1990, kicked off with two shows at the Paramount.

Basia (pronounced BA-sha) will be backed by an even bigger band this time, a 12-piece headed by her longtime musical collaborator, Danny White, who writes the charts for her upbeat, Latiny melodies and sly, evocative, invariably positive lyrics.

The new album has not yet had the dramatic impact of her other two releases, "Time and Tide" and "London-Warsaw-New York," which both sold in the multimillions and produced such pop hits as the bouncy love ballad "Promises," the rhythmic, salsa-inspired "New Day For You" and the lush, teasing "Cruising for a Bruising." But the tour should renew interest in the new CD, which reflects her sunny outlook on life and love.

Among its notable songs is the smooth, airy "Yearning," which features some of her silkiest, most mature singing.

"She Deserves It/Rachel's Wedding" is among her most romantic compositions. It opens with images of a young bride's overflowing joy, expressed in a sweet, mid-tempo R&B style reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, and ends with celebratory Eastern European folk.

Domestic bliss is a new theme for the singer, heard on "Perfect Mother" and "The Prayer of a Happy Housewife." Basia - she's uses only her first name because her last, Trzetrzelewska, is a tongue-twister - reportedly was inspired by her new romance with Kevin Robinson, a trumpet player in her band. "We're not married," she told People, "but it's almost the same."

Basia, born in Poland 34 years ago, won a singing contest in her native country at 15, and was touring Eastern Europe with a pop band at 17. Through a Polish promoter, she and her band got a year-long gig at a Polish-language nightclub in Chicago a few years later. There, she improved her English-language skills. By her mid-20s, she had immigrated to London.

Answering an ad in Melody Maker, she joined a band White was forming. Her fame grew as they toured England and Europe. "Time and Tide" was released in 1987, and she's been an international star ever since.

Spyro Gyra, the solid, eclectic jazz band headed by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, has been going strong for 17 years. Its latest CD is "Dreams Beyond Control" on GRP Records.