I recently wrote about musical genres and sub-genres, and then shared the story with friends on my mailing list.  You can imagine how exited I was when I got a direct response from Jean-Paul Maunick (aka Bluey) of Incognito!

It’s always exciting when you get to communicate with your inspirations, and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to talk with a number of them when writing for Leisure Lab. But hearing from Bluey was even bigger than that. He and Incognito helped lay the foundation for many of my favorite styles such as Nu Jazz and Broken Beat.  They were at the forefront of the Acid Jazz movement, and the group has continued to make amazing music for 25 years.

So of course his input on the subject of musical genres is pretty meaningful to me, and I thought you’d be interested in it too…

Here’s what was in my email:

What do you think about music genres?  I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

Some musicians hate them because they think they’re too restrictive.  Some artists try to perfect specific sub-genres in order to be more successful financially – they find their niche and use it for all it’s worth.

I actually find them creatively useful, like paints on a canvas. Whether it’s downtempo, deep house, or drum and bass, the different styles inspire me to communicate different emotions or ideas. But that’s from a musician’s perspective.  As a fan of music, I like them because they give me a way to explore all kinds of different sounds, and find new music.

I wrote about that on my blog recently, but I’d love to hear what you think.  What are you favorite styles of music?  Or do you even care about genre?

Bluey responded:

They help people make a connection to a style of music and they use that description to discover similar sounds. Some will take the label of the genre and make it their badge of honor, and some will feel a sense of belonging.
Though many Artists don’t like genres as they feel it pigeon holes them and limits them to a category, I am not of the same opinion. In fact for my band’s first album in 1981 I felt that the genre Jazz Funk (Which I was a fan of) perfectly described the music that we had recorded, so I call the album Jazz Funk.

Fast forward a decade and we were signed by Gilles Peterson to his label Talkin’ Loud and we were suddenly put into the Acid Jazz category. Though I was still feeling my music as predominantly Jazz Funk  & Soul the input of the DJ’s and the dancers that followed the scene demanded that it had it’s own identifying label as a new genre. Acid Jazz (A play on words of the Acid House movement) perfectly described this new fusion of sounds seeped & influenced by a cool and groove laden Jazz era and sometimes spiced up with an element of Brazilian or Afro Cuban Jazz. The lines between the sub genres had become so corroded and fused that the word Acid became very descriptive.

Each new generation will have their own take on established genres or create totally new ones. This marks their own creative input and celebrates their music culture forever. it is important as I have witnessed first hand with my son’s career in Drum & Bass (AKA drumnbass) & Neo Soul.
What’s in a name… Quite a lot it seems!

Quite a lot.  I love the positivity in Bluey’s approach to genre, and the positivity in Incongito’s music. And it’s pretty cool that he’d take the time to respond to a fan