Amp Fiddler, Jazz Café, London

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The Independent Culture

Amp Fiddler's debut album, Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, is an example of slow-burning success: after its release 12 months ago, the buzz around its dreamy blend of funk, soul and electronica has built up organically, from the ground up, spread by impassioned, word-of-mouth recommendations.

Amp Fiddler's debut album, Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, is an example of slow-burning success: after its release 12 months ago, the buzz around its dreamy blend of funk, soul and electronica has built up organically, from the ground up, spread by impassioned, word-of-mouth recommendations.

With the minimum of fanfare, the fortysomething Amp rounded off 2004 with a sell-out gig at London's Astoria, and he's beginning 2005 with a four-night residency in the more intimate surroundings of the Jazz Café - ideal for getting up close and personal to the multi-talented Detroit native.

Amp has an illustrious pedigree - a keyboardist of 25 years' experience, he worked extensively with George Clinton, contributed to Prince's Graffiti Bridge LP and recorded with Seal, the nu-soul star Maxwell and the multi-platinum R&B group Lucy Pearl. He has been exposed to Detroit's thriving electronic dance music and hip-hop movements, collaborating with iconic figures from those disparate worlds, including the space-age techno producer Carl Craig, and Slum Village's rapper-producer Jay Dee.

It's Amp's ability to bleed these experiences and hints of techno, house and hip hop into his core soul-funk sound that sets him apart from increasingly overcrowded nu-soul circles that are currently dominated by artists from Philadelphia and a more traditional interpretation of soul music.

The lean, gangly Amp - he's 6ft plus - breezes on stage, wearing a large-collared black dress shirt, his fine features accentuated by bug-eyed black shades, a jagged, wiry Afro and pointy, protruding goatee. The simple set-up consists of drums, guitar, keyboard and Amp on vocals and keyboards.

Keyboards aren't something you get to see much of at gigs, though tonight they take centre stage as Amp begins his set with the languid funk of the album-closer and title, "Waltz of a Ghetto Fly". An extended version, its abiding memory is Amp's lithe fingers dancing over two keyboards, sending shimmering psychedelic funk wafting into the Jazz Café's smoke-free air (it's a non-smoking gig, at his request).

By the third song, Amp has warmed up, ditched his shirt and hit his groove; he's upright demonstrating the "waltz of a ghetto fly", he's gliding and strutting, and there's a swing in his step as the Afro-beat rhythm and deep-house melodies of "Eye to Eye" kick in.

The squelchy, dirty funk of "Superficial" is a highlight; "Dreamin'" is a lush ballad that represents Amp's trademark celestial soul-funk but, live, gets a skanking, reggae reworking. Warm, fuzzy chords signal his anthem, "I Believe in You", though it's a stripped-down version with Amp's voice backed only by the audience's handclaps - beautifully naked soul.

The set is closed with the lullaby-like "Possibilities" and there's no encore, in keeping with the low-keyapproach. Its chorus, "Deep in my mind, I believe anything is possible", is enough to ensure the assembled filter out into the winter evening with New Year good intentions buoyed and more disciples converted, ready to spread the word.

Last concert tonight (0870 150 0044)

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