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Roseland

Acoustic Alchemy

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Album Review

2011 marked the 30th anniversary of Acoustic Alchemy; it was back in 1981 that Simon James and the late Nick Webb, Acoustic Alchemy's original co-leaders, started working together. These days, Acoustic Alchemy have two different co-leaders: Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale. But even though James left in the mid-'80s and Webb died in 1998, the basic idea for the group has remained: two acoustic guitarists up front playing a light, unassuming mixture of jazz and pop. Of course, there is a difference between light and lightweight, and Acoustic Alchemy have recorded their share of lightweight background fluff over the years. But they have also had their more creative moments; thankfully, it turns out that Roseland is more than an exercise in fluff for the sake of fluff. In fact, much of this 2011 release is decent. "Right Place, Wrong Time" is easily the album's most edgy offering; the tune borders on straight-ahead post-bop and is even somewhat Chick Corea-ish. Most of Roseland, however, is in the smooth jazz vein, but on the more memorable smooth jazz tracks, the Carmichael/Gilderdale version of Acoustic Alchemy reminds us that not all pop-jazz is created equal. The album's more substantial smooth jazz offerings include "One for Shorty" (which is both bluesy and poppy at the same time), the Middle Eastern-flavored "State of the Arc," and the funky "Swamp Top." Meanwhile, "Sand on Her Toes" is a pleasant tune with a bossa nova-ish ambience, and the use of a reggae beat serves Acoustic Alchemy well on "The Ebor Sound System." Roseland also has its throwaway tracks, but it would be a mistake to think of Roseland as strictly a mindless fluff album that panders to smooth jazz radio 100-percent of the time. Although Roseland is slightly uneven, there are more substantial moments than throwaway moments on this 55-minute CD.

Biography

Formed: 1981 in England

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '00s, '10s

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...
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Roseland, Acoustic Alchemy
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