World & Latin

Sea Stories

11 JUL 08 JOHN C. BRUENING

Incognito, the ongoing multicultural experiment led by Mauritius-born guitarist Jean-Paul Maunick (aka Bluey) rides the wave of memory and emotion on their new Heads Up release, Tales From The Beach.

The title comes from Bluey's memories of his childhood, when scores of local bands played along the beaches of his small island homeland (off the coast of the much larger Madagascar). To recapture that same carefree, seaside vibe of his childhood, Bluey and company traveled to beaches all over the world -- Italy, Germany, Indonesia and elsewhere -- and soaked up some of the local sounds to craft a pop/R&B/soul/funk album that defies any easy geographical or cultural categories.

As with other Incognito projects, the crew here is hand-picked by Bluey to suit the overall theme of the recording. The most prominent stars in this outing are the vocalists. Joy Rose delivers the opening salvo, "Step Aside," a defiant sounding declaration of independence. Tony Momrelle bears a striking resemblance at times to Stevie Wonder at the peak of his powers, especially on the one-take "When the Sun Comes Down." Maysa Leak, an intermittent but consistently popular member of the Incognito lineup since the early-'90s, finds the nerve on "I Remember a Time," a poignant ballad that rose from the ashes of keyboardist Matt Cooper's recent breakup with his girlfriend.

Regardless of where you stand in relation to the nearest coast, Tales From The Beach takes you to that place where the sand is soft, the ocean breeze is comfortable and the sounds are sweet.