Fingerprints, the popular Dallas based sextet, is known as “one of the best kept music secrets in the South.” For many years standing room-only crowds have been lining up to hear the perfect blend of jazz and R&B by the Fingerprints musicians at venues and music festivals throughout the South and Southwest. With five accomplished CDs to date (Fingerprints, Reunion Live, Summertime Music, DNA and the newest release Dream Life), the distinguished sound of Fingerprints has been shaped through the years by its long-term members: Frederick Nichelson (bass), Claud Hardrick (saxophone, flute, vocals), Tim Jones (lead vocals, percussion), Kennan Wylie (drums, percussion), Jordache Grant (keyboards), and Robert Lacroix (guitar). Their long anticipated fifth CD, Dream Life, on the Pacific Coast Jazz label follows the enormous popularity of their last release, DNA, and proves this contemporary jazz band deserves greater national and international recognition. On Dream Life the band delivers exceptional grooves, emotional energy and some of the most soulful covers around. According to bassist and leader Frederick Nichelson, “Some of our work is comparable to groups like The Crusaders, Spyro Gyra and Pieces of a Dream, but we are careful to stay away from being over produced and seldom use midi-sequencing. We want to be known as a “real band” whose recognized sound of soul, blues and jazz have evolved through over twenty years of live performance.“ Along with electrifying performances on Dream Life, the CD features surprise guest artists like Bernard Wright, Mel Scott, Todd Parsnow, Shelley Carol, Larry Davis, John Gordon, and Richard Smith. The songs on Dream Life are appealing originals by band members or musical guests along with three cover tunes written by, jazz icon Herbie Hancock (Tell Me A Bedtime Story), Grammy award-winning songwriter Diane Warren (For You I Will) and a classic jazz standard by the great Tadd Dameron (Lady Bird). However, what is most special about this CD is the fourth track, “I Am A Man” with inspiring vocals from Tim Jones. Memphis native Frederick Nichelson was honored to co-write the title song with Stax/Volt artist Deanie Parker for the documentary, I Am A Man (www.iamamanthemovie.com). Produced by the Memphis Tourism Foundation in partnership with Running Pony Productions and Old Bridge Media, the all-Memphis team also included Switch Creative and Electraphonic Recording. The documentary is the story of one man, Elmore Nickelberry, and his fight for dignity, justice, and the power of the human spirit. Surrounded by the soul music that helped make Memphis famous, Mr. Nickleberry tells an uplifting life story of endurance and character as he is joined by the men and women of the 1968 sanitation strike whose courageous stand helped change the world forever. Dr. Martin Luther King supported their plight by saying to the public that “our society must come to respect the sanitation worker.”
The group, Fingerprints, was founded in 1986 by guitarist Roy Machado and bassist Frederick Nichelson while they were both music students at the prestigious University of North Texas. “We started the band in college,” said Nichelson, “and have stayed together since that time in collaborations and performances. Many of our other band mates and fellow students at the time went on to success with major artists like the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Harry Connick, Jr, Seal, Sheryl Crow and others. We felt it was important to create our own voice in the music community and remained dedicated to that idea. ”Nichelson, a native “Memphian”, grew up in the shadow of Stax Records legends and their contemporaries such as, The Memphis Horns, Kirk Whalum and the Bar-Kays. Drummer Kennan Wylie comes from Austin, Texas and earned his Master’s degree in Music from the University of North Texas. When Kennan is not on stage performing with Fingerprints, he serves as an educator and his groups have numerous awards at the Percussive Arts Society International Conferences (P.A.S.I.C.). Fingerprints saxophonist Claud Hardrick, (a native of Wichita, Kansas), along with veteran guitarist Robert Lacroix and keyboard player Jordache Grant epitomize the musical philosophy of the group, which is to always strive for the contemporary cutting edge while maintaining respect for tradition. In addition to the “core group”, Fingerprints frequently features talented vocalists Tim Jones (singing on all the band’s CD releases) and Ardina Lockhart.
Band members have recorded and toured in the past with highly respected artists such as Harry Connick, Jr., Marion Meadows, Ronnie Laws, Freddie Ravel, Tom Browne, Miles Jaye, Wayman Tisdale, Roy Machado, Toni Redd, Brad Leali, Ardina Lockhart, Shelley Carrol and Kyle Turner. Fingerprints 1991 self-titled CD sold over 10,000 copies and their second release in 1994, Summertime Music, surpassed that number reaching top twenty status in both Radio and Records and the Gavin Report. The opening track, “Whisper,” featuring long time friend and saxophonist Marion Meadows, continues to be a favorite of many radio stations in the USA and internationally. With their third release, Reunion Live, the band created a definitive statement in the evolution of their musical growth and popularity. Recorded at the world famous Caravan of Dreams club in Fort Worth, Texas, tracks can be heard on This is Texas Smooth Jazz CD sampler released in the fall of 1996. But it was the amazing popularity of Fingerprints 2001 CD release, DNA, which catapulted the group into increased exposure with rave reviews and thousands of loyal fans. One of the singles from DNA, “So In Love,” is featured on the international compilation, Cafe de Soul- Chapter 3. You can also hear the band on the (2012) Smooth Groove Collective Mixtape vol.1.
With a performance schedule of over 100 shows per year, Fingerprints still manages to find time to dedicate to their local community through donated concerts to civic and non-profit organizations. Past organizations have included Sarcoidosis Foundations of Texas, the Salvation Army and the Cub Scouts of America. One of their main emphases is to give back to their own communities by supporting young people and youth organizations through their music and performances. “It is an important “mission” for the group to be able to share our music for the benefit of all people and particularly we want to encourage young people to use music as a way to find positive expression in their lives,” commented Nichelson. “Dream Life is a testament to the good fortune and pleasure we have making a living at our music and so we want to inspire others to do the same. We demonstrate that enthusiasm every time we perform or record and hope that people feel the same joy we do.”