Acoustic Alchemy,
(Higher Octave, 2005)

Although Acoustic Alchemy is one of those bands that primarily are known for guitar-based contemporary jazz, I have always enjoyed the group's ability to successfully experiment with different musical styles. One of the most appealing parts of their unique sound has been the acoustic guitars of Miles Gilderdale and Greg Carmichael, which are combined nicely with a group of great musicians. On American/English, they do a little more experimenting than in the past, and the result is good.

The overall theme of the CD reflects a band whose members come from both the United States and Europe, as is reflected in this album's title. The musical influences range from reggae to Latin rhythms to Motown.

The opening song, "The Crossing," has a typical jazz-sounding melody. From here we go through a nice variety of different musical influences. "Oh Yeah" sounds like something that you would hear in a UK dance club, and includes a digitally chopped-up acoustic guitar riff, something that was done by Madonna on her hit "Don't Tell Me." "So Kylie," named after Australian diva Kylie Minogue, also has a rhythm that sounds like it belongs in a dance club, and combines that with a jazzy guitar line. "Trinity" has an appealing jazz/reggae melody to it.

"The Detroit Shuffle" is an obvious tribute to Motown, with a soulful groove combined with a Spanish guitar and a Motown-influenced melody. "Cherry Hill" is a beautiful soft ballad featuring only acoustic guitars. "She Speaks American English" has a very American/Steely Dan-like jazz-rock sound to it, while "Lilac Lane" and "The 14 Carrot Cafe" are both good examples of soft contemporary jazz. The CD closes with a funky "Get Up (Levantar y Bailar)" and "The Moon & the Sun," which includes some more great Spanish guitar.

Acoustic Alchemy has been giving us great music for the past 20 years, and if you enjoy great acoustic guitar playing and contemporary jazz, these guys continue to do it very well.

by Dave Townsend
18 February 2006

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