Acoustic Alchemy, started in the 80's by Nick Webb (who passed away in 1998) and Greg Carmichael, continues to evolve into new and different areas. While some avid fans of Acoustic Alchemy have criticized their newest release (Aart) as a departure from their legacy and roots, I think that they have put together an excellent,although different as compared to some of their others)album.
When Acoustic released their first album "Red Dust and Spanish Lace" in 1987 the group was quickly classified as adult contemporary music. While personally, I would not want to classify any group as "adult contemporary" (it is just too obtuse), I especially would not put that generic a label on this group's music. Webb and Carmichael brought a very interesting mix of backgrounds into play with the their newly formed group. Both from England, Webb studied jazz guitar at Leeds College of Music while Carmichael went to the London College of Music and focused on Classical Guitar.
Acoustic Alchemy signed originally by MCA, moved to the GRP label after their third CD and with their most recent release have put together 11 albums total. Aart is their second with Higher Octave and I must say although not the typical Acoustic Alchemy,this is a well produced, excellent contemporary jazz album.
What Aart isn't-it isn't for listeners who want to really have to "think" about their music. The CD is comprised of 14 cuts, all a pleasant mix of guitar, sax and horn instruments. "Wish you were Near" an upbeat guitar piece, combined with a some back and forth with the sax thrown in for good measure gets Aart going. Jeff Kashiwa (formerly of the Rippingtons)fires up his sax on "Aart Attack" and in fact the group gives off a bit of a Rippingtons feel on this cut. "Love at a Distance" has a sort of a flamenco guitar overtone as does "Flamoco Loco. My favorite cut on the CD is the last track, "The Wind of Change." This is a beautiful,almost haunting steel string guitar melody with an angelic background harmony giving it a new age feel.
So what's the bottom line? Well if you are anticipating a typical Acoustic Alchemy sound on this CD you will probably be a bit disappointed. On the other hand, if you are wanting a new CD addition to your collection that features some great laid back jazz go ahead and grab a copy of Aart.