Incognito 

Bees + Things + Flowers

As tempting as it may be, don't call Incognito "smooth jazz." Emerging from the UK's acid jazz scene, the collective helmed by songwriter, producer, and guitarist Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick has too much going on to be saddled with that handle. True, Incognito is on the (very) mellow side and nothing on this offering could be considered edgy, but Bees contains disarming, sophisticated songcraft and fine singing for those craving a stress-free, jazz-R&B-pop mélange. Its cover of Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" shimmers like a summer groove, featuring Joy Rose's fervent yet restrained vocals dripping so much hot-fun-in-the-summertime sensuality. The spacious, loping "Summer in the City"— yes, the Lovin' Spoonful hit — and "Always There" feature elegant, majestic, almost cinematic "live" strings (not synthesized or sampled). "Always" has a genial bossa-nova-tinged groove goosed by a bit of drum 'n' bass frenzy and Jocelyn Brown's rapturous vocals. Sacre bleu: Incognito even transforms the hippie-dippy America hit "Tin Man" into an idyllic yet urbane panorama, singers Tyrone Henry and Carleen Anderson soulfully dancing around the melody. Even a reprobate like me gotta admit: This is nice stuff.

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