Auction raises P220K during Incognito jazz concert

By Vladimir Bunoan,

Posted at Mar 12 2014 06:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2014 02:44 AM

British acid jazz band Incognito performs at Solaire on Tuesday night. Photo by ANC's Boyet Sison

MANILA – A special auction during the concert of British jazz band Incognito on Tuesday night raised P220,000 for Habitat for Humanity to help survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

Businessman Jack Duavit made the winning bid for an Epiphone acoustic guitar that was autographed by the members of Incognito, which had a reserve price of only P50,000. The bid was only at P120,000 when Incognito founder and band leader Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick sweetened the pot as he promised to do a private acoustic set with the band when they return to Manila later in August.

Duavit then shouted, “Play at my house,” as he raised the bid to P220,000.

The auction was just the cherry in a night filled with good vibes. Maunick set the tone early on, as he praised the musicality and warmth of Filipino audiences. The band first performed in the Philippines in 2008.

The audience proved him right when several fans bolted from their seats and created a dance floor at the edge of the stage at the grand ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino – and stayed there until the end of the two-and-a-half hour concert, which was a veritable greatest hits show for the 11-member Incognito.

For Maunick, the concert was an extra special one as the band is celebrating its 35th year with a 16th studio scheduled to be released in May. He recalled working as a forklift driver in the U.K. when he first heard their song “Parisian Girl” being played on the radio.

Maunick, who also plays guitar, also gave tribute to his musical idols, such as the late George Duke, as the band performed “Brazilian Love Affair,” and Grammy legend Stevie Wonder. Incognito stripped down its cover version of Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry About A Thing,” with vocalist Vanessa Haynes accompanied only by musical director Matt Cooper on keyboards, before the rest of the band joined in for Wonder’s “As,” this time with Tony Momrelle on lead vocals.

In one of his spiels, Maunick talked about going to New York’s discos even if he didn’t have any money. It was an apt anecdote given the dance energy of Incognito’s faster compositions, which gained a more pronounced dance beat when heard live.

The group's acid jazz hits like “Still A Friend Of Mine,” “Givin' It Up” and “Where Do We Go From Here” were given more infectious rhythms thanks to a full band that included separate percussions and a mini horn section, composed of a sax, trumpet and trombone. The musicians of Incognito were each given the spotlight, notably drummer Francesco Mendolia, who did a lengthy solo.

But more than the display of quality musicianship, the concert got a boost from the overall casual vibe. As waiter scoured the ballroom to get orders for beer and other drinks, the well-heeled crowd was primed to have a good time. The atmosphere, at times, felt like that of a big private party.

Mr. Duavit can certainly look forward to that special performance in his house come August. And if Maunick makes good on his promise to talk to R&B legend Chaka Khan to join in that concert, the price for the bragging rights alone would be well over P220,000.