Incognito at Jazz Cafe

Incognito LiveOn 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%.


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  1. James Said,

    April 15, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    A comprehensive review of the evening proceedings! I would strongly recommend a visit to see Incognito, especially for people who are utterly fed up with the formulaic poppycock that is forced upon them.

    As Kieran said, the evening just got better when Root Jackson came onto stage. For people who know Unfinished Business, F.B.I and G.B Blues Co, Root’s performance possessed all of his customary effervessence and unique charm. Truly marvellous the evening was and certainly worth the entrance fee.

  2. Bluey Said,

    February 2, 2007 @ 4:39 pm

    Namaste Keiran,
    Hope that all is well with you.
    I enjoyed reading your review. Glad that you enjoyed that gig in 2006.
    Hope that music continues to feed your soul.
    Bluey (Incognito)

  3. Kieran Said,

    March 1, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to comment on my review – glad you enjoyed reading it. Hope to see you live again soon 🙂

  4. Phil Said,

    June 3, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

    Hi Kieran

    Thanks for all the great reviews on the site. I am going to the Jazz Cafe for the first time in July (to see my all-time favourite band, Lo’Jo). I am not sure whether to book a restaurant place or a standing place. My wife is keen on the restaurant place, but I am concerned the athmosphere/view might not be so good.

    Would REALLY welcome any comments.



  5. Kieran Said,

    June 4, 2007 @ 9:47 am

    Personally I would recommend a standing place. While the food and service is reported to be very good you end up seated quite high above the stage and almost directly above it such that unless you are sitting by the railings (only some tables are situated by the railings) you can’t see hardly any of the stage.

    If you book standing room and arrive early then you can take one of the seats just to the right of the door giving you easy access to the bar and a direct view of the stage over the top of the bar, which considering it is a low bar, is a near perfect view of the stage direct from your seat. You can of course get up to dance later on in the evening if you want to.

    I hope you enjoy your first trip to the Jazz Cafe, I know mine was a superb experience.

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