It’s when you attend a certain kind of events that you realise there are still so many musicians in the world who do music for the love of music and not for the sake of celebrity. It goes without saying that after 34 years on the scene, Incognito are still enjoying what they do, delivering pure joy to those who are lucky enough to experience one of their phenomenal live shows.
The occasion, for me, was friday 9 August, 2013 at the legendary jazz club in London’s Soho “Ronnie Scott’s”. Founded in 1959 by saxophonist Ronnie Scott in a small basement on Frith street, the venue is today one of the world’s most famous jazz clubs attracting full audiences practically every night. Incognito were no exception with their friday and saturday shows being sold-out in the blink of an eye. For those – blasphemous – ones who are not familiar with this incredible band, the man behind Incognito is Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick, guitarist, bandleader, composer and record producer, whose collaborations list such names as Stevie Wonder, George Benson, George Duke, James Brown, Chaka Kan, Paul Weller, to name some.
I had the honour to interview Bluey before the show, the result being an enlightening conversation on music, inspiration and life (click here to read the full interview).
The atmosphere in the club was amazing, it’s that kind of quiet mood that you know will eventually go crazy dancing and singing. The supporting act, a fantastic trio of piano, drums and double-bass from the Ronnie Scott’s Allstars, kept the audience warm while everyone was evidently eager to finally enjoy the evening main show. Incognito walked on stage at around 8.30 pm, the usually crowded line up filling the stage to the limit of its capacity. Legendary “Brazilian Love Affair” was the opener, as an homage to Bluey’s longtime friend and collaborator, George Duke, who has recently passed away. The show developed into a crescendo of rhythm and it only took two songs before the “quiet” audience abandoned their composure to finally jump from their seats, turning the club into a wild disco; the uptempo, 70s disco track “Ain’t it time”, performed live by the incredibly versatile voice of Vanessa Haynes, kicked off a series of songs taken from “Surreal”, the band’s latest album, like “Above the Night”, an amazing performance by Nicole Williams. The instrumental hit “Parisienne Girl” gave the audience a moment of pure music majesty graced by the final improvised duet of drums and percussions by the amazing Francesco Mendolia and Joao Caetano, who literally took the audience into a state of ecstatic trance with the sound of ancestral rhythms. It was time then for another homage to a great voice of the past, Minnie Riperton, with the cover of “Inside My love” and a showreel of the band’s most popular hits beautifully performed by Tony Momrelle, who delivered an amazing finale with the band’s famous covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing” and “As”.
As if the show hadn’t been great enough, Bluey’s final message of Love to the public on the notes of Bob Marley’s “One Love” was the confirmation that everyone in the audience had just been given a special night to never forget in their whole lives.
Francis Hylton – Bass
Matt Cooper – Keyboards
Francesco Mendolia – Drums
Vanessa Haynes – Vocals
Sidney Gauld – Trumpet
Jamie Anderson – Sax
Trevor Mires – Trombone
Joao Caetano – Percussion
Tony Momrelle – Vocals
Natalie Williams – Vocals