Nick Webb (musician)

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Nick Webb
Birth name Nicholas Webb
Genres Jazz
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts Acoustic Alchemy

Nicholas "Nick" Webb was an English acoustic guitarist, composer, and co-founder of contemporary jazz group Acoustic Alchemy. Webb was the brother of Alex Webb, the nephew of actress Sylvia Syms and appeared as a child in The Punch and Judy Man, British comedian Tony Hancock's second starring vehicle, in which Syms played his wife.

Career[edit]

Nick Webb was educated at Berkhamsted School, Ashlyns School Berkhamsted, LAMDA and Leeds College of Music, where he studied in what was then the only jazz degree course in the UK. Captivated by the artists of the 1960s folk boom - particularly John Martyn - he began playing and performing as a teenager and ran his own folk club, the Portcullis Club, in Berkhamsted.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Webb met up with classical and flamenco guitarist Simon James and founded Acoustic Alchemy as a duo, recording a self-financed, self-produced album in 1981. Subsequently James left the partnership to study flamenco guitar in Spain, leaving Webb to promote the record on his own. Webb turned to a rock guitarist named Greg Carmichael, whose background complemented his own – while Webb had studied jazz at Leeds College of Music, Carmichael had studied classical at London College of Music.

The duo initially worked for Virgin Airlines, recording in-flight music for trans-Atlantic flights, then signed to MCA, where they released their 1987 debut album, Red Dust & Spanish Lace. The album included assistance from percussionist Mario Aragandoña and drummer Bart Smaak, and was the first of many to be produced by German sound engineer Klaus Genuit at Hansa Haus Studios in Bonn.

After two more records on MCA (Natural Elements in 1988 and Blue Chip in 1989), Acoustic Alchemy moved to GRP, which would be their home for the better part of the 1990s. Reference Point, released in 1990, was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award, and marked the beginning of a successful run on GRP that included Back on the Case (1991), The New Edge (1993), Against The Grain (1994) and Arcanum (1996). During this time the band repeatedly toured the United States, where they had a significant following.

Positive Thinking (1998) was to be Acoustic Alchemy’s last recording with Webb, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the outset of the project. His condition worsened to the point where he was unable to appear on any of the tracks, though he continued to write for and supervise the recording. He died in February 1998, and the album was released later that year. Webb is survived by his wife, Kay, and daughter, Alexandra.

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