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Bees + Things + Flowers

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Album Review

The U.K. soul collective Incognito's acid jazzy roots predate the format that became smooth jazz by a few years, so it's not exactly appropriate to call Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick and company's retro pop-soul-jazz vibe "smooth jazz." Nonetheless, on this typically dreamy, cool vibin' and supersensual release, they picked up on the ubiquitous genre trend of 2006 — doing lots of cover versions. At least they take a unique approach to them, as the seductive, guy-girl trade-off vocals and sweet, horn-spiced ornamentation on "Summer in the City" comes after a whole minute of moody, mysterious film score type music. Their take on America's "Tin Man" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World" (which reaches dreamily towards nine minutes) are pretty by the book but more soulful (naturally) than the original and ultimately pretty irresistible. And at least they also dare to cover less obvious tunes like Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," which gets things off to a mellow but optimistic note. Incognito also dares to try a unique approach to the whole cover phenomenon, doing sparsely arranged takes on four of their own classics — "Always There," "Still a Friend of Mine," "Everyday" and "Deep Waters." This stripped down approach allows his vocalists, which include Carleen Anderson, Jocelyn Brown, Maysa, Joy Rose, Imani and Tony Momrelle the center stage they so richly deserve. With this ensemble, the deep soul vibe is everything, so whether they're doing old pop songs, remakes of their own tunes, or originals, we're still dancing in the laid-back late summer sunshine.


Genre: Jazz

An acid jazz project with surprisingly deep roots in the 1970s jazz/funk/fusion world, Incognito were originally formed by Jean-Paul Maunick (aka Bluey) and Paul "Tubbs" Williams. Both were leaders of the late-'70s disco-funk group Light of the World, who scored several moderate British hits, including a cover of "I Shot the Sheriff." Just after the release of Light of the World's third LP (Check Us Out), Maunick and Williams shifted the lineup slightly and renamed the conglomeration Incognito. A...
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Bees + Things + Flowers, Incognito
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