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Incognito: Eleven

Incognito doesn’t need a gimmick, but here it is: Eleven is the veteran UK band’s 11th studio recording; there are 11 songs; and it’s an 11-piece band. All that aside, the latest groove- and brass-happy outing by Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and team bring what they have done for more than 25 years: in-your-face instrumental funk and vocal tunes that are steeped in positive-vibes. Recording with his touring band for first time, Bluey wisely brings back longtime friend and collaborator Maysa to drench soul on four exquisite tunes.

Incognito has had a few songs on the smooth-jazz charts, so there’s a tendency to lump the group in with that crowd. But Incognito rarely gets played anymore–the airwaves are too tame for Bluey’s jam-band jive, which puts the focus on the playing and the groove instead of a repeated 10-second hook. There’s a ’70s vibe to Eleven that’s best expressed on “It’s Just One of Those Things,” a disco-strings number featuring a duet of Maysa and Tony Momrelle. And on “Baby It’s All Right,” vocalist Imaani sounds like a new version of Chaka Kahn doing her classic “Sweet Thing.”

Originally Published