An acid jazz project with deep roots in the 1970s jazz/funk/soul world, Incognito was originally formed by Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and Paul “Tubbs” Williams in 1979. Both were the original members of the late-’70s disco-funk group Light of the World. Whist Tubbs had been a contributing member of another L.O.T.W. off shot Beggar & Co, Bluey had formed Freeez with Jonny Rocca and Peter Maas, but throughout the time that they worked on other projects they would meet at Bluey’s house in North London to play music in a makeshift bedroom studio, for they both had a musical affinity and an undying love for funky jazz.
They decided to take a couple of their home made jams into the studio, and so it is that Incognito debuted with the single “Parisienne Girl” (which also featured another L.O.T.W member Peter Hinds) and released the 1981 LP “Jazz Funk”. The planned second album “Behind The Mask” in 1983 went into a jazz rock fusion direction and came out under another name (The Warriors). Throughout the 80’s Bluey continued to write material for his group, even while working with Maxi Priest, Total Contrast, Steven Dante and others. Tubbs went on to work with George Michael and Rosie Gaines and later moved to the Netherlands. By the beginning of the 1990s, DJ legend and early Incognito fan Gilles Peterson had founded the Talkin’ Loud label and he made Incognito one of his first signings.
The 1991 single “Always There” (with vocals by Jocelyn Brown) became a Top Ten hit as part of Britain’s booming acid jazz scene, prompting the release of Incognito’s official second album “Inside Life”. It was largely a studio affair, with Bluey and engineer Simon Cotsworth directing a large cast with many of the best musicians in Britain’s fertile groove community.
In 1992 they released “Tribes, Vibes and Scribes”. Bluey added American vocalist Maysa Leak and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” became another hit for the band. The album ascended Britain’s pop charts and went on to feature in the America’s contemporary jazz charts. The third album, “Positivity” in 1993 became the group’s biggest album success, with much attention across Europe as well as Britain. That album also spawned “Deep Waters” which would become their biggest radio hit in the USA to date!
The band toured relentlessly and Pamela Anderson and Joy Malcolm were brought in as featured vocalists on their 1995 world-wide hit album “100° And Rising”. Leak returned ‘though… appearing on the following year’s luscious and warm sounding “Beneath the Surface”.
Incognito later expanded their discography with 1996’s “Remixed” which featured the dons of the dance scene Masters At Work, David Morales, Roger Sanchez and Pete Rock, 1998’s “Tokyo Live”, and 1999’s “No Time Like the Future” which featured the hit “Nights Over Egypt”. The group’s next two albums were again made without Leak, 2001’s “Life Stranger Than Fiction” and 2003’s Dome / Edel debut “Who Needs Love”, which featured Brazilian vocalist Ed Motta, Joy Rose & Kelly Sae.
More releases on Dome records followed with “Adventures in Black Sunshine” In 2004 featuring the late George Duke on the cut “Minding My Business”. The Aptly named eleventh album “Eleven” featuring Imaani and Tony Momrelle followed in 2005. “Bees + Flowers + Things” appeared at the end of 2006. The album was a mix of cover versions along with stripped down re-recordings of four Incognito classics.
In 2008 Bluey and company released “Tales from the Beach” and “More Tales Remixed”.
In 2010 they issued two albums: “Live in London: The 30th Anniversary Concert” and the studio set “Transatlantic R.P.M.”, featuring guest appearances by Chaka Khan, Mario Biondi, Leon Ware, Al McKay, Christian Urich from Tortured Soul, Ursula Rucker, and Maysa among others. A cover of the classic Boz Scaggs “Lowdown” saw the band international status grow more and more popular. “Surreal” in 2012 featured Vanessa Haynes and two newcomers Natalie Williams and Mo Brandis with the addition of new younger musicians in the rhythm section, and once again the band took on a fresh direction on an old musical theme and provided their fans with unforgettable live shows.
The band celebrates it’s 35th birthday in 2014 and the release of their 16th studio album.