Selected by Dan Grunebaum


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 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 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."

Incognito play the Blue Note Tokyo on 11/27-12/2. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana