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Back On the Case

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Album Review

The challenge for any smooth jazz artist over time is appeasing longtime fans with certain stylistic similarities, yet searching for ways to keep things unique and distinctive with each successive album. Guitarists Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael (the principals in Acoustic Alchemy) kept the reference point of their steel and nylon string chemistry intact while always venturing the new agey jazz trappings they became accustomed to. Their fifth album features sojourns into reggae, flamenco, blues, country-rock, samba, and jazz improvisation, adding up to their most styistically diverse outing up till that time. While never straying too far from the basically mellow and melodic strains that have attracted a sizeable following, Webb and Carmichael show more of their influences than ever before; Webb wrote the bluesy and romantic "When the Lights Go Out" and Carmichael's love for Spanish sounds shines through the spirited runs of "Fire of the Heart," which is better than most anything Ottmar Liebert has done in that area. "Playing for Time," with its wild drum fills and sense of boppish adventure, hints at the traditional side of jazz. The other remarkable aspect of this disc is the duo's use of outside instruments to complement their string alchemy. Randy Brecker's horns spice up the Latin gigs, but the real marvels belong to keyboardist Terry Disley, whose masterful acoustic and electronic segments lend the collection an amazing added energy.

Customer Reviews


I got into AA during college, on a lark, and never looked back. This album, despite being 16 years old, still has an air of distinction, and sophistication. If you need music engaging, but not overbearing, either to study, entertain, or just to relax to, this album needs to be on your playlist. Best efforts are Clear Air for Miles, Jamaica Heartbeat and Playing for Time.

Sweet liquid guitar

How do you name a song without lyrics? I guess it's how you feel when you listen to the song. This is album is like chocolate. It's not something you need to live but it tastes so good. If you play guitar you have to like this. If you don't play guitar jam to it in your mind.

One of my favorite albums of all time!

I would love to have this disc on a deserted island on a warm, lazy day with some margaritas and a good book. The best cuts are Fire of the Heart and On the Case. I've seen Acoustic Alchemy twice in concert. Just good, pure music. I'm in love!


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...
Full Bio
Back On the Case, Acoustic Alchemy
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Customer Ratings