However fans choose to label Incognito's sound in the post-acid jazz world of today, it’s clear that wherever the group performs, its feisty mix of retro soul, brass, funk, and jazz truly lives up to the title of 2004's Narada Jazz disc Adventures in Black Sunshine. Founder Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and his often rotating “collective” group average an incredible six months a year on the road, wowing crowds throughout Europe and Asia, where they're biggest in Japan and Indonesia.
Incognito’s uniquely funky, retro soul sound is so urban that it may have at first seemed odd to call their equally infectious, constantly grooving Heads Up debut Tales from the Beach – ‘til we realize that the beaches Maunick is referring to are those on his native island of Mauritius (off the coast of Madagascar). That's where he got wind of hotel bands and others playing around bonfires and cookouts; the loose, happy flow of Incognito's bouncy, horn inflected tunes on Tales From The Beach completely reflects that wistful reference.
The new release More Tales Remixed is a unique revamp of the infectious tracks from the original recording that came out in May 2008. The big jazz mags heralded that original disc a triumph--Jazz Times called it “13 soul drenched, brassy vocal tunes imbued with positivity” and Jazziz added, “the hallmarks of this band—swaying rhythms, zesty horn charts and soulful singing—are front and center on every cut.” On More Tales Remixed, Incognito ups the ante and the grooves considerably as Maunick unleashes a batch of the world’s most prominent DJs on the original tracks. If you dig the vibe of any particular track, it’s a good starting point for research into each groovemeister’s body of work. Helping jack up the original soul are, among others, Dimitri (from Paris) and DJ Meme (Brazil) on “Step Aside”; Brooklyn’s Tortured Soul (“Love Joy Understanding”), U.K.’s Ski Oakenfull (“I’ve Been Waiting”) and Yam-Who? (“Freedom To Love”) and Germany’s Christian Prommer (“Happy People”).
While Maunick’s crisp, jangling guitar work, Francis Hylton’s bubbling bass and those old-school soul atmospheres and horns inhabit every melody and groove, these tales are told by a shimmering array of sensual R&B singers. The most well-known of these to longtime Incognito and smooth jazz fans is Maysa, who took time from her building solo career to grace four tracks with her rich and sexy, dark toned vocals: the soaring, percussive dance gem “I've Been Waiting” and the dreamy melancholy meets joy-infused “I Remember a Time,” (re-grooved by Hylton). The original Tales from the Beach gives ample tracking to a handful of lead vocalists who are lesser known than Maysa but equally as heart tugging and soul-spiced: Joy Rose, Tony Momrelle, and Imaani.
The three of them team up on the brass and vibes-tinged anthem “Feel the Pressure,” whose original and new version by Mark De Clive-Lowe perfectly showcases the true ensemble energy that's made Incognito such a powerful force in post-acid jazz groove music for so many years.