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Carter at Abyssinian; Incognito blazes

Ron Scott | 4/11/2013, 4:07 p.m.
Carter at Abyssinian; Incognito blazes

It is somewhat daring that Maunick has four vibrant singers--all of whom take leads--in the group, including Vanessa Haynes, Tony Momrelle and the actual lead vocalist, Maysa Leak.

"Maysa is my Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Minnie Riperton," Maunick said. Leak lived up to this description during her performances of tunes like "Step Into My Life" and "Deep Waters."

On songs like "Always There," "Still a Friend of Mine" and the Jones Girls' "Nights Over Egypzzt," these vocalists flowed in perfect harmony while the band weaved in and out of these memorable songs. Jocelyn Brown also sang on "Always There" and the Incognito original hit, "Still a Friend of Mine."

"We play music to touch your soul," said Maunick. "Instrumentals are as strong as words." The musicians who burned the stage and calmed the audience to a whisper included keyboardist/musical director Matt Cooper; keyboardist/bassist Francis Hylton; drummer Francesco Mendolia; trumpeter/flugelhorn player Sid Gauld, saxophonist/flutist Jamie Anderson, trombonist Trevor Mires; and percussionist Joo Caetano.

Incognito is about swinging; its small but powerful brass section reflects the elements of Count Basie or Fletcher Henderson--big dance bands. The group is credited with leading the "acid jazz" movement in the U.K. They have been described as a funk band, Nu Jazz and soul jazz. In his description of jazz music, Duke Ellington noted that "there is good music and bad music." This is clearly good music.

Maunick has produced and arranged for Chaka Khan, Philip Bailey and George Benson. He started Incognito in London in 1979. Their debut album was "Jazz Funk" in 1981. Since then, 15 albums have followed (the most recent recordings were released on Bluey's label, Rice Records). Their latest album, "Surreal," was released last year.

Next month, Bluey will make his solo debut with "Leap of Faith," set for release on March 26 through Shanachie Entertainment. Bluey still has that touch of Marvin Gaye and that soulful hypnotic grip that he did when he started with Incognito. He has a vocal sound that hijacks your eardrums.

"We are teachers and healers. I certainly see myself as much more of a healer than an entertainer," said Maunick.