On Tuesday 12th April I went to the Jazz Cafe in London to see Incognito, the Jazz Funk band known by many, play live. I went along with a good friend of mine who often goes to gigs with me, James Goodhead, and a friend from St. Albans and his girlfriend.
For those who haven’t been to the Jazz Cafe before it is worth me giving a brief overview of the atmosphere created there, especially when its packed out with a good act playing. You can also check their website out on the link in the sidebar. There are two bars, one goes almost all the way accross the venue, and separates a comfortable seating area from the stage and dancefloor, on the other side of which there is another small bar for when things get packed and you cannot get to the main one easily. The main bar has no separating wall however, so you have a great view of the stage from the seating area. Above the dance floor and stage there is a restaurant enabling diners to take in the atmosphere as well as a meal. This is one of my favorite venues, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who fancies some jazz while in London.
To the gig in question then, well what a night it was. We arrived early at around 7 as soon as the doors opened to make sure we got some seats and got a few drinks in before 9 when the music kicked off. There was no warm-up group, Incognito came straight onto the stage, and they needed no introduction – their first number was one of those smooth but funky tunes, which soon has your foot tapping to the beat and your mind feeling the funk. I affectionately term this feeling the funk “getting you”, lol
Before introducing themselves they did two other numbers, one a famous vocal, and the other a well known instrumental. When the lead finally said “We are incognito” the well oiled crowd were definitely up to here some good words and some more great music. Most introductions at gigs are a bit dry, but this one was a bit special. It was clearly not rehersed; they spoke about their influences from the 70s and how members of the band had snuck into gigs as kids. It all rang true for me, and when the introduced the lead singer of the 1970′s band FBI to sing with them, it made the night that little bit more special and even more enjoyable.
There is something about Incognito’s music that really grips at the soul of the jazz lover, the ease of which the music seeps out into the crowd, and yet the intensity with which the audeince picks up its effects is really something quite unique. Despite having one of my favorite drinks in hand I soon felt compelled to down it and head onto the dancefloor with great haste. Once there, I not only had the richness of the sound, variety of great vocalists and guitar riffs that would have made even Hendrix turn his head but the sheer volume of the sound going right through you. I know your bones dont really shake, even at this proximity to the music, but thats what it felt like – truely marvellous.
The band then paid tribute the Maysa Leak; a singer who had been with the band for several years, since branched out on her own and released her first solo album and someone I admire very much. The musicians were now warming to the crowd themselves, and everyone was getting so much more adventurous. Solos cropped up all the time, all of which made you whoop and cheer as you thought they couldn’t get any better then suddenly did. On fire on the night was the drummer, bass guitarist, guitarist and the trumpeter – all of whome did amazing solos.
Most bands at the majority of gigs go off at the end of the night, only to be shouted back onto the stage for an encore. Its almost a cliche. Incognito did the opposite. Right when you thought they were going to go off and get shouted back, they got all the musicians and singers back on stage to do one huge 14 minute long finale, with loads of solos and much funkyness, it was a truely awesome finish. Then to top it all off they did a great thankyou to the crowd for packing out the opening night, and then all left the stage to a classic by Bob Marley saying tha music brings people together. I’m sure I’m not the first to agree 100%.