It is not often that superlatives such as awesome and magnificent seem so lame when used to describe really great music. Leap of Faith by the Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick; one of the fathers of the Acid Jazz movement, is one such body of work. From the very first bars of the first soulful ballad “Stronger,” ‘Bluey’ reels you in. As the album progresses, he sweeps you along with his velvety smooth vocals.
In the circles where smooth jazz run deep, say “Acid Jazz,” and somewhere at the top of the list falls ground-breaking British super-group, Incognito. Fans of this genre would already be familiar with Bluey Maunick’s work as Incognito’s conceptualizer, composer; producer; guitarist and singer. The band, arguably the most successful of groups of the genre and for the past 20 years have played to sold-out crowds globally.
Incognito’s last studio album, “Surreal,” was released in March 2012, however in this dispensation, Bluey has ventured outside Incognito. The result is the release of his first solo album – Leap of Faith. With this album, Bluey has ventured out of the shadows and has stepped into the limelight
Acid Jazz, the genre in which Bluey and Incognito has stamped their class, is really difficult to define and for a very long time, there was just no name for it. An analysis of the genre will detect complex drum movement, intricate guitar samplings Jazz-like keyboard styling combined with genre elements from funk, disco, reggae, hip-hop and looped electronic beats all combined to produce a stimulating ‘ear-gasm.’
If you are a fan of Smooth Jazz, then the ten-track Leap of Faith, is a smooth as they come, a superbly produced album chockfull of easy listening melodies that could easily become a staple on your I-Pod. The songs are well-written, catchy and have a real groovy feel to them. The vocals are cool, smooth, clear. There is some level dance-ability, but more of the mature kind, but I can also see these songs being “supped” up and played in places where house and hip-hip fusion is popular.
The only drawback to this groovy album is that Bluey’s vocals, though suave and delicious, they have a kind of sameness on all of the songs. Depending on how you see it, this might be a good or bad thing. His sound is unmistakable, but some of the songs do not distinguish themselves from each other. But it’s not bad enough to turn you off the album. Overall, it’s a solo album from a jazz master you’ll remember.