Jazz-Funk Pioneers Incognito Celebrated In New ‘Black Story’ Video Series

The new series seeks to pay tribute to trailblazing Black UK artists for Black History Month.

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Incognito with Jean-Paul 'Bluey' Maunick (left) - Photo: Paul Bergen/Redferns

British jazz-funk outfit Incognito are the first act to be celebrated in Universal Music Recordings’ (UMR) ‘Black Story’ series, which seeks to pay tribute to pioneering Black UK artists as part of this year’s Black History Month, which is celebrated in October in the UK.

The first ‘Black Story’ video – which you can watch below – salutes Incognito, the trailblazing outfit formed by Mauritian-born, London-based Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, who first formed the band in 1979.

Bassist-turned-guitarist Bluey was initially part of New Life with David Grant, and he also played with another pioneering dancefloor-friendly outfit, Light Of The World, who – like Incognito – recorded for Chrysalis offshoot, Ensign Records.

Incognito first made the UK charts with their instrumental tune, “Parisienne Girl,” and their 1981 debut, Jazz Funk, which featured guest stars including Hugh Masekela hornsmen Peter Segona and Claude Deppa, and legendary Jamaican trombonist Vin Gordon.

Black Story - INCOGNITO

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However, Incognito experienced far greater success after signing with Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label in the late 1980s, with their second album, Inside Life spawning the UK Top 10 smash, “Always There.”

“I knew Gilles from his Radio Invicta days — I was his first interview ever back in the early 80s”, Bluey says in a statement on Incognito’s official website. “He came to see us play at the Southport Weekender and when he heard our arrangement of “Always There” — a mixture of the Side Effects vocal and the Ronnie Laws original with our trademark horns. He immediately wanted us to record it! Our vocalist got sick at the last minute, so Gilles suggested Jocelyn Brown . . . and the rest is Incognito history!”

“Always There” remains Incognito’s signature hit, but the band have gone from strength to strength. They remain a going concern and their 40-year-plus history is celebrated on UMR’s Always There, 40 Years & Still Thriving.

UMR says of their new ‘Black Story series: “‘Black Story’ tells the history of our unsung UK Black musical icons. It is undeniable that Black artists and musicians have shaped the landscape of culture worldwide. UMR wants to celebrate not only the culture; but the scenes, the sounds, and the artists which shaped UK Music, giving flowers to the incredible Black artists in our archives.

We seek to deliver these influential (and sometimes little-known) Black artists from our repertoire to an audience who may never have experienced them before, to elevate their music, share stories and, in turn, gain new fans to preserve the legacy of Black music.

Read more about unsung UK Black musical icons on the Black Story hub.

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