If your mind, body and soul needed a shaking, you got jolted last night in the Cobb Energy Centre. The occasion was Jazz 91.9 WCLK's 37th Anniversary Benefit Concert which kicks off the metro's Memorial Day Weekend Jazz Festival activities. The Centre's John A. Williams Theatre, which seats 2,750, was sold out. Although the acoustics were a little hot, it was all good.
The main attraction, Incognito, was led by Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick. Incognito had a cadre of stand-alone, strong musicians with exceptional musical talents, including a horn section of three playing the flute, saxophone, trumpet, and trombone; Bluey on guitar; drummer, bass player, and keyboard player who changed up and played each other's instruments; and a singing trio of two sequined-clad women and a man who blew the vocals into another space.
Bluey gave his personal music history, of going to studio after saving up money from his forklift job in a lorry manufacturing plant. After running through his friend's music collection, he got a job at a record shop where he had access to the world's greatest collection of new albums. His favorites were Stevie Wonder and a host of Brazilian basso nova artists, especially Antonio Carlos Jobim. The crowd went wild and stood for several minutes after engaging in the group's rendition of a song with a Latin beat.
Bluey also delved into the personal life of Maysa. "I told my manager to find me a lead vocalist, and he gave me Maysa. She came to the London airport with $3, looking for someone named 'Bluey.' The airport officials thought she was out of her mind," he said.
After joining the group, Maysa became romantically involved with the percussionist while touring Europe. "He ordered breakfast in French, lunch in Italian, and dinner in Spanish. I gave him everything," she told the audience. When Bluey wrote her a letter stating his concerns about the relationship, it was too late. The letter became the lyrics to "Deep Waters." Maysa's onstage performance of the song was smoking.
The audience participation moment came with the performance of a Stevie Wonder song, "Don't you worry about a thing." Bluey ended the set with some spiritual and racial advice, stating people should come together despite differences in colors and creeds. "Wake up your mind," he said. Quoting the Funkadelics, he concluded the show by saying, "We are one nation under a groove." The after party was held at Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint on Peachtree Street.
Incognito, a "smooth jazz/funk/R&B" group, formed under the leadership of Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick in 1980 in Great Britain. Bluey also arranges for Chaka Khan, Philip Bailey, and George Benson. "We are teachers, healers. I certainly see myself as much more of a healer than an entertainer."
Maysa Leak earned a degree in classical performance from Morgan State University. Maysa began singing with Incognito after auditioning over the telephone. After touring the world and making recordings with the group, she released several solo albums. Her newest album is "Woman in Love."
Khari Cabral Simmons is co-founder of the soul group Sirius B. Project and holds a BA degree in music composition from Morehouse College. He has also performed with Donnie, Roy Ayers and his own band, Jiva, and opened for vocalist Sade and trumpeter Russell Gunn. He specializes in dance floor samba.
WCLK, one of the last pure jazz radio stations in the U.S., receives funding from the government and supplements expenses with sponsorships and memberships. It is affiliated with Clark Atlanta University. To learn more, contact Reggie Hicks, development director, at 404-880-8273.