Selected by Dan
The Blue Note Tokyo
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 the '
Formed after reshuffling the late '70s disco-funk group Light of the World, the driving
force behind Incognito was and is 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
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 empressario Gilles Peterson formed his Talkin' Loud imprint to capitalize on the
new British interest in the rich jazz-influenced funk of the '70s.
Peterson made Incognito one of his first signings, and the dye was cast with the 1991
single featuring vocals by Jocelyn Brown, "Always There," which became a Top Ten
hit. The album Inside Life followed, with Bluey setting a pattern of calling on
Britain's best studio musicians for assistance.
Bluey beefed up the band in 1992 with the addition of American singer Maysa Leak 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 Atlantic.
About this time a new wave of clubs like Blue and Apollo were opening up in Tokyo.
Centered on Aoyama Dori and watered by the jazz funk often to be heard on FM radio
stations like J-Wave, the Shibuya-kei sound was inspired by bands like Incognito.
Incognito made their first visit to Japan in 1992 and now hits the Blue Note at least once
a year. In a 1999 interview, Bluey told Tokyo Classified that this was the
fulfilment 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."
the Blue Note Tokyo on 11/27-12/2. See
listings for details.