Amp Fiddler and Nigel Hall Band

Detroit based Amp Fiddler is a celebrated soul/funk musician who has shared stages and studios with everyone from Prince and George Clinton to Primal Scream and underground Detroit producer Moodyman. Amp also played a pivotal role in bringing Slum Village to global attention, and was a friend and collaborator with their producer, the late J Dilla. His warm, expansive mellifluous music takes stylistic cues from all these encounters, but emerges as earthy, supremely relaxed, and rooted in the funk and soul that Amp feels most connected to. And, as he suggests, it is music for the head as much as food for the heart and soul.

After learning piano as a child, Fiddler studied music at Oakland and Wayne State Universities, and with the jazz great Harold McKinney. He joined a do-wop outfit, The Enchantments, as a teen, and then in 1983 received his big break when a friend, Bernie Worrell the Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist passed a tape of his playing to George Clinton. Bernie was leaving the mothership, and Amp ended up replacing him, touring with Clinton and the P-Funk mob for more than a decade. He signed with Elektra and released an album with his brother, Mr. Fiddler, in 1990, but the record proved too eclectic for the label to work out how to sell.

Amp’s low profile through the 1990s can be put down to both raising a son, and a remarkable talent for landing background work on important records. He was asked to sit in on a session for a demo after an acquaintance spotting him walking down a New York street, and when the artist Maxwell was signed, Amp ended up helping him make his acclaimed Urban Hang Suite debut.

His first solo album “Waltz of a Ghettofly” set an impressive benchmark for Amp’s future music to match. With Afrostrut he showed how to follow up with a cult classic, replacing some of Ghettofly’s looser jam-based compositions with tighter, more traditional song forms, and as a consequence his lyrics, which had tended towards the universal but unspecific, became more solidified. “I’m always happy with the songs I write, regardless of what anybody thinks,” he emphasizes, “But I guess we all have something we have to grow towards, and there ‘s always areas for learning. WE all have to do better at something.

That kind of humility is rare in today’s me-first celebrity-lust culture, but Afrostrut prove that being honest with yourself as an artist can reap massive dividends. Writing mainly at the piano rather than the Ghettofly approach of assembling sounds piecemeal from different jams and ideas-generation sessions gave Amp a tighter focus.

Leaving Pias Records in 2007 after the label merged with Wall of Sound, Amp’s next project as a collaborative album with Jamaican reggae pioneers Sly and Robbie in 2008. The project “Inspiration Information” was series of tracks brought together through the creative process in the studio without the usual A and R constraints.

“This was one of my favourite and most challenging projects to date. Two records 12 tracks from start to finish in 3 days was challenge enough. I have revered the production work of Sly and Robbie for years with numerous artists but particularly Grace Jones, so this was an amazing opportunity to jam on this level with world class musicians and create an entire album concept”. Despite the projects stellar lineup, Strut Records failed to market the album to the extend of the preceding albums and only the hard core fans really got an opportunity to hear this once in a lifetime collaboration.

Following on from Inspiration Information, Amp commenced writing for his third solo album. Tragedy struck in May 2009, when Amp’s only son Dorian Anthony Fiddler was suddenly struck down at 18 years old from diabetes and plans were put on hold for the album. As he dealt with his loss, he returned to the album project, with a strong desire to keep a very live element to the recording process, to keep the memory of Dorian alive. Dorian was a talented young drummer and graduate from Detroit Contemporary Arts, his driving ambition to one day be the heartbeat of his father’s band.

With his diverse and abstract relationship with music, the cosmos and everything, Amp’s love of electronica remained strong and the culmination of these forces has led to not one, but a two album project that highlights Amp’s talents in all arenas.

The soon to be released Ampidelic World (2012) has the innocence and rawness of Ghettofly twisted and woven around the smoothness of Afrostrut. This Psychedelic offering balances Amp’s alternative leanings with his soulful appeal, and with the majority of the tracks being recorded live, it demonstrates Amp’s impeccable talents as musician, arranger and writer to its highest level. Following on it’s heels will be Amp’s “Digitarian” project – his electronic journey through the cosmos, looking at the fine intertwined relationship between the Universe and Mother Earth.

Soul provider Nigel Hall is in many ways an artist who needs no introduction. An in-­demandsideman, he'sbuilt a mighty foundation of funk over the years onstage and in the studio withcollaborators including the Warren Haynes Band, Jon Cleary, Soulive, Oteil Burbridge and Roosevelt Collier, Ledisi, the Soul Rebels, Lettuce and countless others. Legions of fans are already well in the know about Hall's copious keyboard chops and powerful vocal style. But even to them, his Feel Music/Round Hill debut solo album will be arevelation –a confirmation that Hall has stepped out front and center into a creative space to call his own."Ladies &Gentlemen... Nigel Hall," due out in digital formatNovember 13thand vinyl November 27, captures the spirit of the songs that made Hall a musician. It was produced by EricKrasno, guitarist and producer of music by a dizzying array of artists including Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Talib Kweli, Aaron Neville and Matisyahu. Hall'soriginal compositions,from the blissful, sunny '60s-­style soul groovesoflead single"Gimme A Sign" and "Never Gonna Let You Go" to the teasing, R&B kiss of downtempo cuts like "Too Sweet" and "Call on Me" show off a record collector's pitch-­perfect knowledge and a lifelong fan's passion for gritty, muscular rhythm and blues, funky dancefloor rave-­ups and sultry bedroom serenades. Nigel Hall grew up in Washington, D.C., in a highly musical family. His fingers first touched the keys before he hit kindergarten age, and his ears were wide open. "I grew up with records," he said. "That's why I'm obsessed. My father had a vast collection. I'd be in third grade with my Walkman and everyone's listening to Ace of Bass, and I'm listening to "Return to Forever," Chick Corea's fusion project with Stanley Clarke. The vintage soundsof "Ladies & Gentlemen... Nigel Hall," infused with his electric freshness, together make both an audible autobiography and Nigel Hall's musical mission statement. Cover choices including Ramp's "Try, Try, Try," written by Roy Ayers, Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand The Rain," and Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out"-­deep album cuts from the back pages of golden-­age R&B-­reveal a true student of the sound. Most of the songs on "Ladies & Gentlemen... Nigel Hall" were cut in one take, straight from Hall's spirit to tape.It's a loving, detailed, sure-­handed scrapbook of American soul influence that tugs your heart and moves your hips."Music is our way of traveling through time," he said. His cover of Stanley Clarke's "I Just Want To Love You," for example, newly recorded as a turn-­the-­clock-­back, Motown-­infused duet with intensely soulful vocalist Alecia Chakour, was originally released the year Hall was born, in 1981."It's a part ofmy life, a part of my childhood, and it's a part of what made me me, that song," he said.
Nigel Hall is alsoa relatively newresident of one of America's most sonically significant cities, a place that has always respected the power of history. Since relocating to New Orleansin late 2013, Nigel Hall has been embraced by its world-­renownedmusic community. In early 2014, a feature in its premier music-­focused magazine, Offbeat, enthusiastically welcomed Hall as "a perfect fit" for the vibrant city and its singular culture. The Times-­Picayune's review of his solo debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival the same year crowned him with a comparison to Southern funk godfather Art Neville. "It's the best decision I ever made for myself in my life and musically," Hall said of the move. "I'm surrounded by the most amazing, incredible musicians in the world at all times. The big picture, the sincerity is very present here at all times. It's a breath of fresh air. Everybody's in the vibe. Everybody's feeling something."You can feel it on"Ladies & Gentlemen... Nigel Hall," particularly on the slinky, nasty, Meters-­style funk of "Don't Change for Me." But Hall's recent past is present, too;; his Lettuce co-­conspirator Eric Krasno shares writing credit on severalof the original tracks, and longtime jamband collaborators like sax man Ryan Zoidis and drummer Adam Deitch, of Lettuce and Soulive,lend their talents. So does fellow crate-­digger Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, who guests on a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Lay Away" along with former Rolling Stones sideman Ivan Neville. "I like to sing songs that reflect my being and who I am as a person," he said. "Because that really touches me. When you hear a song and it makes you cry, or it makes you happy or it evokes any kind of feeling, that is music. That is what music is supposed to do. And music is the last pure thing we have left on this earth. It's the only pure thing. "

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