Release Date: September 25, 2001
Acoustic Alchemy’s new album, AArt, was recorded this past Spring in London. Fresh from a year-long world tour and the continuing success of their The Beautiful Game album (Higher Octave, 2000), the British jazzers once again went to work with producer Richard Bull, renowned for his work with Incognito, Basia and Julia Fordham. Chief amongst their goals was to capture the lively group feel that only so much consistent touring can produce.
In fact, for AArt, Acoustic Alchemy made a fairly radical change in its writing process. Whereas before, songs were written first for acoustic guitars, and then fleshed-out for the band, all of AArt’s parts were written concurrently. The new dynamic, which invited much more input from the entire band, produced an abundance of great tracks.
In the end, 14 songs were recorded. Both Greg and Miles agree that they hadn’t intended to include so many songs, but when all was said and done, there just weren’t any that could be cut. Highlights include the insanely hot “Flamoco Loco” (described as “Segovia meets James Brown”), the moody-groovy “Tuff Puzzle” (co-written by Frank Felix), and the first single, “Wish You Were Near.”
This past June and July, Acoustic Alchemy toured North America, introducing fans to the new songs. Reaction was phenomenal, somewhat akin to English soccer fans after a big win. Night after night the applause flooded in, culminating in spontaneous standing ovations for “Flamoco Loco” and other infectious tunes.
Formed in 1986, Acoustic Alchemy has released an inspiring and substantial body of work. With a steadfast dedication to melody and the intrinsic beauty of two acoustic guitars working together, the group has connected to their audience in a personal way. In fact, for the uninitiated, an Acoustic Alchemy concert is a surprisingly raucous affair.
Over the course of 15 years, Acoustic Alchemy has experienced all manner of triumph and tragedy. Perhaps nothing has been so profound as the loss of co-founder Nick Webb (in 1998, to pancreatic cancer), but as with everything in life, Acoustic Alchemy is the sum of its history. An interesting aside: the group has traditionally found success everywhere but home, in the U.K. Finally, in the last year or so, AA has begun to win acclaim and now regularly sells out venues across its homeland.
The Visual AArts
Greg Carmichael, on the album title and cover:
As never before, recording was opened up to a dizzying array of top players. The goal was to get the right person for the right part every time. Surrounding the core of Greg, Miles, Frank and Tony were musicians such as saxophonists Snake Davis (Eurythmics, et al), Jeff Kashiwa (an American radio favorite), and Andy Sheppard (Carla Bley, Gil Evans). Star keyboardist and arranger Simon Hale (Jamiroquai, BT, Charlotte Church, Randy Crawford) and ex-AA keyboardist Terrence Disley (Dave Stewart, 3 Thinking) also contributed significantly to AArt, as did world class drummers Geoff Dunn and Pete Lewinson, and the horn section of trombonist Fayyaz Virji, trumpeter Noel Langley and saxophonist Adrian Revell.