The enduring success of Incognito is one of the great stories of UK music during the last four decades. Look at the recent history of soulful UK artists and you will find any number of short-lived acts that have achieved pop success. Narrow it down to those that have created a uniquely British sound and have endured as a global phenomenon on their own terms, and the list becomes short. Dues, then, to Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and Incognito, formed in 1979 and celebrating almost 40 years of positive vibes and undiluted Jazz-Funk.
In 1983, Incognito went back into the studio to record their second album. Those sessions took a more Jazz-Rock-Fusion-influenced direction, which the 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 that, Paul and Bluey went their separate ways. Although Bluey had a day job at the time, he continued writing and producing, and always kept his ears to the ground for new talent. He discovered 14-year-old vocalist Steven Dennis (later re-named Steven Dante) in Hackney, and he also met and worked with Marcus Miller, producer Steve Harvey, artists Maxi Priest, George Duke, Caroll Thompson, Total Contrast, and many others.
For the next decade, albums have followed thick and fast and feature the best of the young crop of musicians and singers alongside bigger established names. The writing has gotten deeper, the music always uplifting, and the productions timeless. For their 16th studio album, Amplified Soul, Incognito returned to their Jazz-Funk roots. If you have not seen them live, this is the band to see! They shine in every department, the grooves irresistible and the message always positive!
Having moved to London from his native Mauritius at age ten, the UK live scene was a key inspiration for Bluey. “Defining moments for me?” Bluey reminisces.“Discovering Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, of course, as well as Santana, Earth Wind & Fire, and 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 self-titled LOTW debut was a landmark for UK Jazz-Funk, featuring the extended, high-energy club hits “Swingin’” and “Midnight Groovin’”, as well as a young Sade pictured on the cover.