By Marah J. Morrison
Dante Basista is a grad assistant and student in the Department of History at Youngstown State University. Apart from his studies, being in the music industry has been a part of his life since the sixth grade.
This year, Basista has released his new album “Unc D Presents Harshmellow.” The album is his first effort to bridge the gaps between beat culture and electronic music with improvisation-based jazz fusion.
Basista embraces the term “smooth jazz” and he hopes to redefine the term for the local area. He said one of his biggest influences in the music industry is The Beatles, but for this specific project, British and London house producers have taken the reigns.
“The biggest thing that I wanted to do was to give an option for people and to get the gears going,” he said. “I want people to create more and be someone [who] is a pusher.”
Basista said he is hoping that after the release, it will allow more people to be involved, and it’s a million times better in the music industry when more people get in on the work he is doing.
Basista explained the name of the album came from wanting to create an interesting fable type of story, and the combination of the words “harsh” and “mellow” worked well together to find a way to describe the chord changes in the album.
“The harmony worked in relation to the rhythm where I thought that the rhythms were often mellow, but the way the chord progressions were, they were sometimes very harsh,” he said. “It’s stuck and I’ve gotten good feedback.”
Basista said he started working on “Unc D Presents Harshmellow” in November 2018, and in January he put out a couple of songs from the album to serve as a teaser and then finished everything up between February and March.
“I do a lot of things almost simultaneously,” he said. “While I’m working on my thesis and typing up pages and pages and pages, I’m also burning copies of the mix tape. So, I try to do it at the same time as much as I can.”
Basista said he balances his education and music by keeping the weekdays for mostly school and the weekends for music. He said this project has been the most fulfilling thing he has done in a long time.
“It was a combination of three or four years of playing every week downtown from the connections I made there,” he said. “Meeting different people and adopting different styles. It’s kind of like a breathing thing.”
Basista said with this project he is not trying to get too much or make too much out of it, and it is more or less an expression of himself and something he has done to make himself happy.
Nathan Negro, who collaborates with Basista on his music, said he first met Basista when he was at the Dana School of Music jamming, and since then, he has played music with him and has worked with him at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts.
“We’ve had a fair share of different projects and different recordings,” he said. “Over the years he has grown to be one of my favorite musicians to work with in the area.”
To listen to Basista’s new album, go to: https://uncd.bandcamp.com/album/unc-d-presents-harsmellow.