Incognito

The enduring success of Incognito is one of the great stories of UK music over the last four decades, bringing positive vibes & undiluted jazz funk to the scene since 1979.

Initially formed by Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick & the late Paul ‘Tubbs’ Williams, both were also founding members of UK jazz-funk outfit Light Of The World). Incognito has to date, released an amazing 24 albums worldwide & have also enjoyed several hit singles in the UK including ‘Always There’ (ft. Jocelyn Brown), ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing’, ‘Everyday’, ‘Jump To My Love’ & ‘Out Of The Storm’. The band also been signed to legendary record labels such as Talkin’ Loud & Dome Records over the years & continue to tour under the guidance of Bluey himself.

Now 36 years on, & with their latest album ‘Amplified Soul’ released in 2015 on Earmusic, the Incognito story remains a uniquely Great British adventure. From Top 10 hits to producing & collaborating with legendary international artists, musicians, multi-instrumentalists & songwriters that includes such luminaries as George BensonStevie WonderChaka KhanPhilip BaileyGeorge DukeAl JarreauPaul WellerMario Biondi

Bluey can certainly take his place among the greats of global soul. Having moved to London from his native Mauritius at the age of ten, the UK live scene was a key inspiration for him. “Defining moments for me?” Bluey reminisces, “discovering Stevie WonderMarvin Gaye, of course, as well as SantanaEarth Wind & Fire, & Kool & The Gang. But the real link to Incognito’s genesis came from UK bands like Gonzalez and FBI. These were people that lived in your town and walked your streets.”

The debut Incognito set ‘Jazz Funk’ was an instrumental tour de force, with guests including Hugh Masekela, Peter SegonaClaude Deppa, plus legendary Jamaican trombonist Vin Gordon.

In 1983, Incognito went back into the studio to record their second album which took a more jazz-rock-fusion-influenced direction, but their record company deemed too much of a stylistic departure to be released as Incognito, so they put it out as a one-off called ‘Behind The Mask’ under the band name The Warriors. Soon after, Tubbs & Bluey went their separate ways but Bluey continued writing & producing, keeping his ears to the ground for new talent. He discovered 14-year-old vocalist Steven Dennis (later re-named Steven Dante) & also met & worked with Marcus Miller, producer Steve Harvey, artists Maxi Priest, Caroll ThompsonTotal Contrast & many others.

Incognito CDBy the late ’80s, samplers & sequencers were standard, using a BBC computer, Bluey started creating tracks at home, including what would become the main body of Incognito’s third album, ‘Inside Life’. Around that time, Gilles Peterson had just started his Talkin’ Loud label, & was looking for acts to sign. Bluey knew Gilles from his Radio Invicta days, being his first interview ever back in the early ’80s! “He came to see us play at the Southport Weekender” says Bluey “& when he heard our arrangement of ‘Always There’, he immediately wanted us to record it! Our vocalist got sick at the last minute, so Gilles suggested Jocelyn Brown… and the rest is Incognito history!” David Morales went on to remix it & became a worldwide hit, paving the way for Incognito to have their feet planted in both the live music & club scenes.

As well as success in the UK in 1991, Incognito unwittingly became smooth jazz heroes in the U.S. For their second Talkin’ Loud set, ‘Tribes, Vibes & Scribes’, an update of Stevie’s ‘Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing’ & another album track blew up on radio. One of the main ingredients to the album was Richard Bull’s drum programming and the introduction of the velvety, luscious vocals of Baltimore’s Maysa Leak.

The albums that followed Tribes cemented Incognito’s place among the in-demand bands on the international stage. ‘Positivity’ (1993) crammed full of slick productions with universal hits like ‘Still a Friend of Mine’ & ‘Givin’ It Up’, selling almost a million units worldwide. Then ‘100 Degrees & Rising’ saw Bluey bring in Joy Malcolm & Pam Anderson for some edge on vocals, recorded at Abbey Road with a full orchestra, using Clare Fischer’s incredible string arrangements for Rufus as inspiration & the then-undiscovered, BAFTA-winning, British composer-arranger Simon Hale (Jamiroquai, Björk) to write the score. “I wanted to stretch my ability as a writer and producer,” says Bluey, “& I remember keeping a diary that inspired the lyrics. It was all about relating experiences as I felt them, not just about finding a catchy hook.” Ever the musical alchemist, Bluey brought his clubland roots back into play with incredible remixes for everything on the album with the likes of Roger SanchezMasters At Work. As a special bonus (& artistic high!), Stevie Wonder added harmonica to a rework of ‘Change’.

A central component of the band’s massive & passionately loyal fan base has always been their powerful & energetic live shows. For Bluey, it is a chance to get close to his audience, making sure people get it. The band has played the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, the Java Jazz Festival & across the world in the likes of the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Argentina & Chile. Bluey adds, “the crown for most enthusiastic audience, however, goes to Seoul in South Korea . . . Crazy love!”

Post-Talkin’ Loud, the Incognito release schedule has been as busy as ever with some of Incognito’s strongest outings & critically acclaimed releases on UK’s Dôme Records & German label Edel Records. Bluey has also explored Incognito off-shoot projects, including the largely instrumental group called Citrus Sun, which was inspired by Bluey’s desire to form a band with legendary jazz guitarist Jim Mullen & you can check out an interview with Bluey on YouTube talking about this project. Initially formed in 2000 & comprised of Incognito alum as well as many musician friends from over the years, Citrus Sun has released several albums on Dôme. Additionally, in 2005, Bluey formed the Hope Collective & released the single ‘Give & Let Live’ on Expansion, in support of the Asian tsunami victims & the people of Darfur in the Sudan. The single featured an all-star line-up that included Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood & Omar. Most recently, in May 2015, Incognito released the single, ‘Send Your Love’ to raise funds for UNICEF to aid the people of Nepal following the massive earthquake earlier in the year.

Alongside the man himself are regular band members which include some of the best on the current UK scene: Tony MomrelleImaaniMaysa LeakVanessa HaynesNatalie Williams & musicians like Matt Cooper (keyboards), Francis Hylton (Bass) & Sid Gauld (Trumpet) to name just a few. Bluey sums it all up, “It’s a wonderful time for music. As well as being entertainers, we are teachers, healers, & ambassadors for the human race — & we take that very seriously.”

Their performance at Summer Soulstice in 2016 was the highlight & we are very proud to have Bluey & Incognito as part of our humble Hall Of Fame.

Links > Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • YouTube


 

Menu Title