Incognito

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

Initially formed by Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick and the late Paul ‘Tubbs’ Williams (both also founding members of Light Of The World) Incognito has released an amazing 24 albums worldwide and enjoyed several UK hit singles including ‘Always There’ (featuring Jocelyn Brown), ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing’, ‘Everyday’, ‘Jump To My Love’ and ‘Out Of The Storm’.

The band has been signed to legendary labels such as Talkin’ Loud and Dome Records over the years and continue to tour under the guidance of Bluey himself, a man who 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 Wonder and Marvin 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.”

Bluey from Incognito live on stage at Summer Soulstice 2016. Photo by Jenny B © Summer Soulstice Ltd.

From Top 10 hits to producing and collaborating with legendary international artists, musicians, multi-instrumentalists and songwriters that includes such luminaries as George BensonStevie WonderChaka KhanPhilip BaileyGeorge DukeAl JarreauPaul WellerMario Biondi… the list goes on.

The debut Incognito set ‘Jazz Funk’ was an instrumental tour de force, with guests including Hugh Masekela, Peter Segona and Claude 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 and Bluey went their separate ways

By the late ’80s, samplers and 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 and was looking for acts to sign. Bluey knew Gilles from his Radio Invicta days, “he came to see us play at the Southport Weekender” says Bluey “and 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 and became a worldwide hit, paving the way for Incognito to have their feet planted in both the live music and 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’ and another album track blew up on radio.  The albums that followed ‘Tribes’ cemented their 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’ and ‘Givin’ It Up’, selling almost a million units worldwide. Then ‘100 Degrees & Rising’ saw Bluey bring in Joy Malcolm and Pam Anderson for some edge on vocals, recorded at Abbey Road with a full orchestra. 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 (and artistic high!), Stevie Wonder added harmonica to a rework of ‘Change’.

Bluey backstage at Summer Soulstice 2016 with (left to right) Kenny Thomas, Omar and Kenny Wellington.
Photo by Gary Kypa © Summer Soulstice Ltd

A main component of the band’s massive and passionately loyal fan base has always been their powerful & energetic live shows. They’ve played the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, the Java Jazz Festival and right across the world, Bluey adding, “the crown for most enthusiastic audience, however, goes to Seoul in South Korea . . . Crazy love!”

Bluey has also explored off-shoot projects, including the largely instrumental group Citrus Sun, which was inspired by Bluey’s desire to form a band with legendary jazz guitarist Jim Mullen. Additionally, in 2005, Bluey formed the Hope Collective and released the single ‘Give & Let Live’ on Expansion Records, in support of the Asian tsunami victims and the people of Darfur in the Sudan. The single featured an all-star line-up that included Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood and Omar. 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 that year.

Incognito’s vocal line up at Summer Soulstice 2016. Left to right: Vanessa Haynes, Tony Momrelle, Katie Leone & Deborah Bond.
Photo by Jenny B © Summer Soulstice Ltd.

Touring once again in 2019, alongside Bluey are regular band members which include some of the best on the current UK scene: Tony MomrelleImaaniMaysa LeakVanessa HaynesNatalie Williams and 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 and ambassadors for the human race — and we take that very seriously.”

Their performance at Summer Soulstice in 2016 was one of the highlights in the event’s history and we are very proud to have had Bluey and Incognito as part of our humble Hall Of Fame.

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