Incognito comes full circle with Adventures in Black Sunshine, the new recording out now on Rice/Narada. In the mid to late 90s, leader Bluey steered the band away from the jazzier sounds that were its trademark into dance/pop/funk tunes. The group?s sound lost its distinctiveness, its identity. Perhaps due to the difficulty in marketing this new sound after already having established themselves as something else, Incognito didn?t appear to have a distributor in the U.S. at the turn of the century. I had to import their 2001 release Life Stranger Than Fiction. Last year, Bluey?s label, Rice, hitched on to Narada and Who Needs Love was released. When I listened to cuts from that CD, I was stunned. Bluey had the old, familiar Incognito groove back. I mean, it was back as if it never left. The horns sounded the same, the light synths, everything.
Merely a year later, that return to form continues as Bluey brings it full circle by inviting the definitive Incognito singer, Maysa, back for half of the 14 cuts on Adventures in Black Sunshine. The instantly recognizable horns and orchesynth (yeah, I made that word up) touches remain, and Maysa adds so much more. The chemistry between her and Bluey, or at least her interpretation of his music, is undeniable. It?s definitely a happy reunion for the listener. For those who love the Incognito instrumentals, there are two great ones. George Duke rips open one of those on his Fender Rhodes. Not only is this one of the best Incognito CDs, it?s simply good music for any jazz, soul, or funk fan. Recommended.