Basso began playing trumpet at nine, studied at the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec a Montreal, and in his teens, under the name 'Stubby' Basso, worked in dance and show bands led by Al Nichols, Maury Kaye, and others. While playing at the club El Morocco with Kaye, he was heard by the US singer Vic Damone, who took him on the road 1957-8. Basso subsequently worked throughout North America 1958-60 with singer Pearl Bailey and the orchestra led by her husband, drummer Louis Bellson.
In 1960 Basso settled in Toronto, becoming a first-call studio musician trumpeter and leader. He also took assignments as a harmonica player. Basso was music director 1963-7 for CBLT's 'Nightcap' and 1968-9 for CBC-TV's 'Barris and Company.' He also co-starred in 1969 with vibraphonist Peter Appleyard on CBC-TV's 'Mallets and Brass,' was music director 1969-71 for CBC Radio's 'After Noon,' and led orchestras for two CBC-TV series devoted to the big band era, 'In the Mood' (1971-2) and 'Bandwagon' (1972-3). In 1975 he organized big bands for concerts at the CNE by Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman.
Basso performed in Toronto nightclubs and hotel lounges with his own small groups - several of which brought together jazz and Latin music - and was an important soloist with the Boss Brass, the Rob McConnell Tentet, Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six, and the big bands of Ron Collier and others. With the downturn in studio work in the late 1970s, he began to lead what would become one of Toronto's most popular society orchestras.
Despite his pre-eminence among Canadian jazz trumpeters, Basso was reticent to work in that idiom. He was nevertheless known for the lyricism of his flugelhorn work on jazz ballads, a reputation taken far afield by his recordings with the Boss Brass, and was equally capable of incisive trumpeting in the bebop style. He was credited with the theory that one attacks the trumpet and makes love to a flugelhorn.
Basso was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994.