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|Labels||MCA, GRP, Higher Octave, Narada, Heads Up|
|Associated acts||Down to the band|
Acoustic Alchemy is an English 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 led by Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale.
1981–1989: Early days
Acoustic Alchemy was formed around the acoustic guitars of Simon James (nylon string) and Nick Webb (steel string), often backed up by double bass, percussion, and string quartet the Violettes. The band made two albums that were unprofitable. In the mid-1980s, James left, and in the 1990s he formed Kymaera, a similar, though more Latin oriented band.
In 1985, Webb discovered Greg Carmichael, a guitarist with a London pub band called the Holloways (not affiliated with the indie band of the same name) who became James' successor. The new pairing found work as an in-flight band on Virgin Atlantic flights to and from the United States. Six weeks after sending demos to MCA, the band was called to record their first album, which was released in 1987 titled Red Dust and Spanish Lace. Appearing on the album were Mario Argandoña on percussion and Bert Smaak on drums. The album was the first of many to be recorded at the Hansa Haus Studios, in Bonn, Germany, where they met sound engineer Klaus Genuit, who worked on many of the band's albums. Two more albums followed for MCA: Natural Elements (1988) and Blue Chip (1989). The title track from Natural Elements became the theme music for the BBC TV program Gardeners' World.
1990–1998: Mainstream success
Acoustic Alchemy were soon moved to jazz label, GRP Records as MCA bought GRP in February 1990. Six more albums followed, starting with Reference Point (1990), featuring a cover of "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck and Back on the Case (1991). Reference Point was nominated for a Grammy Award. Webb uncovered fourteen early tracks from 1982 to 1987 featuring Simon James which were released on the compilation Early Alchemy (1992). The New Edge (1993) and Against the Grain (1994) followed.
For their eighth album, Arcanum (1996), the band re-recorded some of its popular tracks. The album was recorded in London's Pinewood Studios with the string section of the London Metropolitan Orchestra. The collection included three new tracks, "Columbia", "Something She Said", and "Chance Meeting". Personnel on the recording was Webb, Carmichael, Sheppard, Murphy and Parsons. It was produced by Aubry "Po" Powell, who worked with Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant.
Positive Thinking (1998) was to be Acoustic Alchemy's last album with original frontman Nick Webb. It was recorded over a week's time in a Manor House near Bath, England, in Monkton Combe. Recorded by Steve Jones, the musicians were Greg Carmichael (guitar), John Sheppard (drums), and Dennis Murphy (bass).
1999: Reform and changes
After Webb's death, Greg Carmichael brought in Miles Gilderdale as his partner, and the band moved label to Higher Octave Music. The debut album on the label, The Beautiful Game, (2000) was more experimental, borrowing from several genres of music. It featured the introduction of Anthony "Fred" White on keyboards.
AArt (2001) was released a year later and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Their 1990 album Reference Point was also nominated for a Grammy.
Radio Contact (2003) contained "Little Laughter", the band's first song with a vocal, performed by Jo Harrop. Harrop was a backing vocalist who was discovered by Gilderdale during a session with Latin singer Enrique Iglesias.
Early in 2006, bassist Frank Felix left the band to concentrate on other projects. The position was filled by two bass players: former Incognito and Down to the Bone bassist Julian Crampton for UK dates and guitarist Gary Grainger (brother of longtime drummer Greg Grainger) in the U.S.
GRP re-released a concert/documentary video of Acoustic Alchemy entitled Best Kept Secret on 25 July 2006.
- "The Earl of Salisbury's Pavane", GRP Christmas album Vol. 2 (1991)
- Sounds of St. Lucia: Live (2003)
- Best Kept Secret (2006, re-release of VHS from 1998)
|Steel string guitar||Nylon string guitar||Electric guitar||Bass||Keyboards||Drums||Percussion||Other instrument|
|1987||Red Dust and Spanish Lace||Nick Webb, John Parsons||Greg Carmichael||–||Werner Kopal||Rainer Brüninghaus||Bert Smaak||Mario Argandoña||–|
|1988||Natural Elements||Nick Webb, John Parsons||Greg Carmichael||–||Konrad Mathieu||Rainer Brüninghaus||Bert Smaak||Mario Argandoña||–|
|1989||Blue Chip||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||John Parsons||Klaus Sperber||Rainer Brüninghaus||Bert Smaak||Mario Argandoña||Karl-Heinz Wiberny (saxophone)|
|1990||Reference Point||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||–||Patrick Bettison, Abe White||Terry Disley||Dan Tomlinson||Mario Argandoña||Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn), Terry Dee (harmonica)|
|1991||Back on the Case||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||–||Klaus Sperber||Terry Disley||Bert Smaak||Mario Argandoña||Ludwig Gotz (trombone)|
|1992||Early Alchemy||Nick Webb||Simon James||–||Jeff Clyne, Ron Mathewson||–||–||Mario Argandoña||The Violettes (string quartet)|
|1993||The New Edge||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||–||Dave Pomeroy, Patrick Bettison||Rainer Brüninghaus, Terry Disley||Dan Tomlinson||Mario Argandoña||Derrick James (saxophone)|
|1994||Against the Grain||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||John Parsons||Paul Harriman||Mike Herting, Terry Disley||Bert Smaak||Mario Argandoña||–|
|1996||Arcanum||Nick Webb||Greg Carmichael||John Parsons||Dennis Murphy||–||John Sheppard||Mario Argandoña||Tony Rice|
|1998||Positive Thinking...||John Parsons||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Dennis Murphy||Rainer Brüninghaus||John Sheppard||Mario Argandoña||–|
|2000||The Beautiful Game||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale, John Parsons||Frank Felix||Anthony "Fred" White||Geoff Dunn||Scooter de Long||Terry Disley (piano)|
|2001||AArt||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Frank Felix||Anthony "Fred" White||Pete Lewinson||Richard Bull||Terry Disley (piano), Fayyaz Virji (trombone), Snake Davis and Jeff Kashiwa (saxophone)|
|2002||The Very Best of Acoustic Alchemy||Various|
|2003||Sounds of St. Lucia: Live||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||–||Frank Felix||Anthony "Fred" White||Richard Brook||–||–|
|2003||Radio Contact||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Frank Felix||Anthony "Fred" White, Jamie Norton||Greg Grainger||Mario Argandoña||Neil Cowley (piano), Jo Harrop (vocal), Eddie M (saxophone)|
|2005||American/English||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Frank Felix||Anthony "Fred" White, Jamie Norton||Greg Grainger, Bert Smaak||–||Eddie M (Saxophone)|
|2007||This Way||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Julian Crampton||Anthony "Fred" White||Greg Grainger, Bert Smaak||–||Neil Cowley (piano), Terry Disley (piano), Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Jeff Kashiwa (saxophone)|
|2008||The Very Best of Acoustic Alchemy Vol. 2||Various|
|2011||Roseland||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Julian Crampton||Anthony "Fred" White||Greg Grainger|
|2014||Live in London||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Gary Grainger||Anthony "Fred" White||Greg Grainger|
|2018||33 ⅓||Miles Gilderdale||Greg Carmichael||Miles Gilderdale||Gary Grainger||Anthony "Fred" White||Greg Grainger|
- "Acoustic Alchemy".
- Bush, John. "Acoustic Alchemy". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "Acoustic Alchemy Nick Webb Memorial". acoustic-alchemy.net. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- Oliver, Myrna (7 February 1998). "Nick Webb; Guitarist for Acoustic Alchemy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Nominees for 44th Annual Grammy Awards". United Press International. 27 February 2002. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- Garrison, Kurt (November 2013). "MCG Jazz Hits a High Note". Pittsburgh Magazine. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- Tauss, Lucy (October 2003). "Acoustic Alchemy Radio Contact". JazzTimes. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- "Official website". acoustic-alchemy.net. Retrieved 4 January 2014.