Absolute [Release date 08.11.19]
While the name may not immediately trigger recognition, acid jazz group Incognito are a group that have a long association with the London club scene. Formed in 1979 by Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick and Paul “Tubbs” Williams, Incognito have been and continue to be a revolving door of musicians and showbiz guest stars – providing silky soul and funky grooves. The band has had periodic success on the UK charts with covers such as ‘Always There’, featuring Jocelyn Brown and ‘Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing’; they’ve also featured on the long running compilations from AIDS charity, the Red Hot Organization.
Celebrating their fortieth anniversary, new album ‘Tomorrow’s New Dream’ finds Incognito looking backwards and referencing their own past and that of the British soul scene in general. ‘Haze of Summer’ is the kind of feel-good tune that could grace any coffee shop and find customers nodding their heads while sipping their lattes. Vocalist Joy Rose brings a euphoric, effortless sounding vocal across some chicken grease guitar and Francis Hylton’s relentless bass.
The impressive roster of guest stars is a testament to Incognito’s reputation; Phil Perry and Maysa take the lead on ‘For The Love of You’, a summer jam with an infectious chorus and on ‘The Weather Report’ a cappella gospel sextet, Take 6 guest star and unsurprisingly provide impressive stacked harmonies. Meanwhile, ‘All For You’ meshes technology with old fashioned musicianship, bright horn lines over drum programming – a song with a hint of early nineties Soul II Soul.
Bluey Maunick’s production is diverse and expansive. ‘Saturday Sirens’ marks a highpoint of the album, a freewheeling instrumental with crazy flute playing and nasty horn playing. Penultimate track ‘No Show’ is introspective and haunting thanks to Mario Biondi’s unique, quirky vocals. While there aren’t any distinctive lyrical themes, there is however a sense of joy throughout; as ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ puts it “I couldn’t conceive the notion beyond my imagination that I would see the summers in your eyes”. “Summer” feels like an appropriate adjective to describe this record, the very definition of feel good. ***½
Review by Phillip Beamon
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