|Jean-Paul Maunick (aka
Recent and regular visitors to Japan, Incognito
should be heard not only for their masterful brand of British
jazz funk but for an insight into a style that has been key
to the Shibuya-kei sound so central to Japanese music since
Incognito was formed after a reshuffling of the late-'70s
disco-funk group Light of the World, and its driving force
has always been Jean-Paul Maunick (aka Bluey). Born in the
Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, Bluey wound up in
London where his musical gift quickly found an outlet.
Incognito debuted in 1981 with the album Jazz Funk at a time
when their brand of jazz/funk fusion was distinctly out of
fashion. They had to wait to find their niche until acid jazz
impresario Gilles Peterson (who incidentally will be at the
Blue Note January 16-17) formed his Talkin' Loud imprint
to capitalize on the new British interest in the accomplished
jazz-influenced funk of the '70s.
Peterson made Incognito one of his first signings, and the
die was cast with the 1991 single featuring vocals by Jocelyn
Brown, "Always There," which became a Top 10
hit. The album Inside Life followed, with Bluey setting a
pattern of calling on Britain's best studio musicians
Bluey beefed up the band in 1992 with the addition of American
singer Maysa Leak-who will appear at the Blue Note
with Incognito-for the release of Tribes Vibes &
Scribes. The album included a cover of jazz funk God Stevie
Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'bout
a Thing" that ascended charts on both sides of the
About this time a new wave of clubs like Blue and Apollo were
opening up in Tokyo. Centered on the Aoyama and Shibuya club
scene, and watered by the jazz funk often to be heard on FM
radio stations like J-Wave, the Shibuya-kei sound was partly
inspired by bands like Incognito.
Incognito made their first visit to Japan in 1992 and now
hit the Blue Note at least once a year, recently for extended
New Year's engagements. In a previous visit, Bluey
told Metropolis that this was the fulfillment of a childhood
dream. "For me, to finally get to Japan and play music
was definitely an amazing thing," he said.
What does Bluey do when he's in Tokyo? "I do
a lot of shopping," he admitted. "I buy a lot
of vinyl, and I found all the music that I couldn't
get in Europe or America. I'm a music junkie, so it
was fantastic for me."
Incognito play the Blue Note Tokyo
December 26-31. See concert listings for details.
Blue Note Tokyo
Discuss music with METROPOLIS
readers at http://forum.japantoday.com