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Tales from the Beach

Incognito

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Album Review

However fans choose to label Incognito's sound in the post-acid jazz world of 2008, it was clear that wherever the group performs, its feisty mix of retro soul, brass, funk, and jazz truly lived 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 averaged 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 here completely reflects that wistful reference. 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," the dreamy melancholy meets joy-infused "I Remember a Time," the fast rolling jazz tune "Never Look Back," and the sensuous chill rocker "When Words Are Just Words." At a generous 15 tracks, 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," perfectly showcasing the true ensemble energy that's made Incognito such a powerful force in post-acid jazz groove music for so many years.

Tales from the Beach, Incognito
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