Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. May 11, 2007: On route to the USA for the second leg of their 2007 stateside tour, Acoustic Alchemy blew into the Cinnamon Club, Altrincham for their only appearance in the north west of England this year. Here, in the southern suburbs of Manchester and with Smooth Radio 100.4 DJ Steve Quirk at the helm, the band was in tremendous form and provided the packed audience with surprises that they could not have anticipated. With the brand new CD This Way not out in the USA until June 6 the Alchemy played selected tracks from it and also handed their fans the chance to purchase signed copies. Without doubt the album is destined to be one the most significant contemporary jazz releases of 2007 and marks yet another phase in the bands musical evolution. Their gradual metamorphosis from a seriously acoustic unit to today’s mix of melody and funk has been achieved in part by the astute introduction of guest saxophonists yet with ‘This Way’ the band has pushed the envelope one more time. The addition of trumpet, flugelhorn and even trombone, combined at times with sax to form a fully fledged horn section, has added another dimension. Yet fundamental to what Acoustic Alchemy is all about are the enduring performances of Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale. Their hallmark combination of steel and nylon stringed guitars is the platform for everything that follows and additionally allows the flexibility for the band to play with a variety of line-ups. Last year they successfully flirted with the trio format and at the Cinnamon Club, with Julian Crampton on bass, US natives Greg Grainger on drums, Yorkshire boy Fred White on keyboards and without a horn player in sight, the stage was set for a selection of their more acoustic driven gems.
They opened with an expansive take on ‘No Messin’ from the Radio Contact album and quickly followed it with ‘Say Yeah’ from their 2005 release American English. This gave Gilderdale the chance to build his scat singing, which on the album never grew beyond a ‘bit part’, into a master class and they stayed with American English for ‘The ‘Crossing’. Re-imagining the tune to factor out the horn backing, that on the CD was so expertly provided by Snake Davis, they made it a real delight and when they turned the clock back to the 1991 album Back On The Case for the tracks ‘Jamaica Heartbeat’ and ‘When The Lights Go Out’ the outcome was just as good. It whetted the appetite of the audience for some of the bands earlier work and that hunger was fed first with the spectacular ‘Ariane’ from Blue Chip and later with the equally impressive ‘Lazeez’ from the June 1996 Arcan Um.
Of course much of the hype of the night surrounded This Way. The first glimpse of it was by way of the Latin tinged ‘Carlos The King’ and with Gilderdale switching effortlessly from acoustic to electric guitar this moody atmospheric track really hit the spot. The bands homage to Jamaican guitar legend Ernest Ranglin, the aptly titled ‘Ernie’ did just the same and they also found time to include the jazzy ‘Tied Up With String’ before reverting to their back catalogue for ‘Tuff Puzzle’ from AArt. Rounding off a picture perfect performance by one of the circuit’s most charismatic live bands was the enthusiastically demanded encore number, the passionate ‘The Moon And The Sun’ from American English. Readers of the Secret Garden in the Tuscan AZ area who are looking forward to seeing Acoustic Alchemy at the Rialto Theater on June 22 for the first date of their US tour need to know they are in for a real treat.
Check back here soon for a complete review of This Way. For more on Acoustic Alchemy’s tour schedule go to www.acousticalchemy.netPosted by Denis Poole at May 28, 2007 12:09 PM