Lifetsyle Network once again participated in the annual Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival (PI Jazzfest), as it brought renowned British contemporary jazz band Acoustic Alchemy and other world class musicians in an event dubbed as "ABS-CBN Jazz Gala" recently at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre, Resorts World Manila.
ABS-CBN, headed by its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gabby Lopez is a staunch supporter and promoter of jazz music. That's why it continues to support the projects of the Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival Foundation Inc. through its sister channel Lifestyle Network.
For nearly 25 years, Acoustic Alchemy has pushed the limits of the acoustic guitar's potential by embracing a spectrum of musical styles, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to folk to rock to world music and beyond. In the two and a half decades since their earliest recordings--despite a tragic setback in the late 1990s and the inherent challenges of the 21st century music industry--the group has assembled and sustained a vast and loyal following that stretches well beyond their UK origins.
"For a lot of people, instrumental music is just a sound that plays in the background," says Carmichael. "But we put a lot into it--not just with this record but with every record we've ever made. I'd like to think that after all these years, we've learned how to take people on a journey. A lot of our fans have said that we do that for them. As long as they keep coming back, and as long as they want to stay on that journey, we'll keep doing what we're doing."
The band's story begins with two guitarists, Nick Webb and Simon James, who recorded a self-financed, self-produced album in the mid '80s titled Acoustic Alchemy. Shortly after the release, James left the partnership to study flamenco guitar in Spain, leaving Webb to promote the record on his own.
Webb turned to a rock guitarist named Greg Carmichael, whose background complemented his own. Webb had studied jazz at Leeds College of Music, while Carmichael had studied classical at London College of Music--and the two assumed the name of Acoustic Alchemy.
Positive Thinking (1998) was to be Acoustic Alchemy's last recording with Webb, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the outset of the project.. He died in February 1998, and the album was released later that year.
Webb's death left the future of the band in question. At the time, the group consisted of the two acoustic guitarists backed by electric guitar, bass and drums. Gilderdale, who was playing in the electric guitar slot at the time, expanded his technical skills and repertoire on acoustic guitar and stepped forward to take Webb's place alongside Carmichael at the front of the band.
Four years in the making, Roseland is Acoustic Alchemy's newest recording. The album was self-produced in Gilderdale's home studio in York, England (with some post-production in London and Germany), and released on the band's newly formed label, Onside Records.
Meanwhile, other world class musicians who jazzed up "ABS-CBN's Jazz Gala" were Yaron Gottfried, an Israeli conductor who bridges classical, contemporary and jazz, and Filipino-American Charmaine Clamor who was cited as "a gifted vocalist" and as "one of the important and original new jazz singers of the decade" by The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, respectively. Dave Eggar as well as Filipino musicians Tateng Katindig and Abe Lagrimas also performed.