During the late '80s and '90s, Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael produced a series of mellow albums classified as adult contemporary music, though the guitarists encompass the range of jazz and new age as well. Both grew up in England during the '60s listening to pop/rock, though Webb studied jazz guitar at Leeds College of Music while Carmichael focused on classical guitar at the London College of Music. Originally formed by Webb and Simon James, Acoustic Alchemy later became Webb and Carmichael; the duo initially worked for Virgin Airlines, providing in-flight music on trans-Atlantic trips. Signed to MCA in the mid-'80s, Acoustic Alchemy released its debut album, Red Dust & Spanish Lace, in 1987.
After two subsequent releases, the duo signed with GRP in 1990. Their second GRP album, Reference Point, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Positive Thinking followed in 1998 in the wake of Webb's February 6 cancer-related death; their jazz content was quite small, but Acoustic Alchemy's albums consistently charted number one on the adult contemporary charts. By 2000, Carmichael unveiled a revamped Acoustic Alchemy that included longtime sidemen like bassist Frank Felix, guitarists John Parsons and Miles Gilderdale, and keyboardist Terry Disley, as well as new members such as keyboardist Tony White. That year's The Beautiful Game was the new lineup's first release. AArt followed in 2001 and proved to be the group's biggest splash, landing them another Grammy nomination that year.
Empowered by that success, the band continued to tour and, when they had time, record. The resulting two albums, 2003's Radio Contact and 2005's American/English (still on Higher Octave), further solidified the new lineup and ushered in the release of the concert/documentary DVD Best Kept Secret in 2006. 2007 found Acoustic Alchemy collaborating with Higher Octave labelmates Down to the Bone for the album This Way. In 2011, Acoustic Alchemy marked the band's 30th anniversary with the release of the album Roseland.
"London, United Kingdom (1981 – present)
Acoustic Alchemy is a British contemporary instrumental and smooth jazz band formed in London, England in the early 1980s (c. 1981), originally fronted by acoustic guitarists Nick Webb and Simon James. The band is currently fronted by Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale.
During the 1980s, there was little grateful audience for this form of music in the UK, and the big players in the genre were all American. The pioneering sound of two duelling acoustic guitars - Simon James on nylon and Nick Webb on steel - was a fresh touch on the genre, and hence the immediate success of the band, backed up by a double bass, percussion, and occasionally string quartet The Violettes. In the mid-1980s, James left the band; he would go on to form Kymaera, a similar, albeit more Latin oriented band. Webb then went on to discover Greg Carmichael, who became James’ immediate successor.
The new pair got work playing as an in-flight band on Virgin Atlantic flights to and from the United States - after sending some demo material to Nashville-based label MCA, the band was called six weeks later to record their first album. The pair had literally played their way to America, and in 1987 released their debut album, “Red Dust and Spanish Lace”. The project saw them joining forces with other like-minded musicians such as Mario Argandoña on percussion and Bert Smaak on drums. The album was recorded at the Hansa Haus Studios, in Bonn, Germany. This was where they met sound engineer Klaus Genuit, who has worked on many of the band’s albums."
Acoustic Alchemy is a British contemporary instrumental and smooth jazz band formed in England in the early 1980s (c. 1981), originally fronted by acoustic guitarists Nick Webb and Simon James. The band is currently fronted by Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale.