Producer-guitarist Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, the main force behind the popular British acid-jazz outfit Incognito, steps out as a leader on his debut solo album, Leap of Faith. Maunick never sang much with Incognito, mostly leaving vocal duties to others, particularly singer Maysa Leak. Here, he does all the singing, and his voice proves to be a pleasant and surprisingly versatile instrument.
Maunick turns in a range of vocal performances. He employs a Prince-esque falsetto on the catchy pop number “Live Like a Millionaire,” a tune that includes a finger-snapping doo-wop break, while “Keep Myself Together” features vocal harmonies on the chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on a Donald Fagen album.
Most of the tracks on Leap of Faith are danceable jazz-funk tunes, like the atmospheric electronica number “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” the Latin-tinged “Sky” and the house track “Why Did I Let You Go,” but Maunick gets socially conscious on the spoken-word title track. He entreats the listener: “Sometimes the only way out of a hole is to take a leap of faith/When a journey demands much more than a man-made craft/A leap of faith may well be the only form of transportation to your destination.” He then spotlights Dr. Martin King Jr. and Nelson Mandela as examples, the seriousness of the lyrics mitigated slightly by the funky groove beneath Maunick’s voice.
It’s not really appropriate to call Leap of Faith an auspicious debut, since Maunick has been a fixture on the contemporary jazz scene for decades, but the album presents an attractive individual statement, one that hopefully Maunick will decide to repeat in the future.