Acoustic Alchemy Returns--Despite death of co-founder Nick Webb, Greg Carmichael and friends keep music alive.
Thursday, June 18, 1998
The lilting beauty of the steel-string guitar melody, melded with a warm cushion of nylon-string guitar accompaniment and filled achingly with the understated drum and bass lines in the song "Vapour Trails" on Acoustic Alchemy''s recently released 10th recording, Positive Thinking, says it all. A melancholy yet cheerful ode, you can feel the heart that went into its composition.
Just four months ago, co-founding member and principal songwriter Nick Webb passed away after a year-long battle against pancreatic cancer. During that struggle, he maintained a positive attitude while contributing his talents to both this album and concert tour. Though remaining co-founder Greg Carmichael must carry on without the man whose music meant so much to him and to the world, he chooses to honor Webb''s memory by celebrating a life rich in the quality of time spent on earth rather than mourning too long.
"The new album is the best they have ever made," says Sandy Shore, promoter of concerts that have featured Acoustic Alchemy in Monterey over the last four years. "It''s absolutely stunning. There''s a maturity and spirituality to it. You know Nick was a part of that. He wrote the songs with Greg and John [Parsons, a longtime AA collaborator who fills in for Nick on the album and tour]. [Webb] wasn''t well enough to play on the album, but it has the signature AA sound. He never gave up. He worked on this album until they took him to the hospital. That was Nick, he would soak every last drop out of it. He truly lived life to the fullest...We''re dedicating this summer of concerts to Acoustic Alchemy and Nick''s vision since they''ve been such an integral part of our work here."
Acoustic Alchemy has played a huge role on the contemporary jazz scene globally and locally, although their music could be better described as an instrumental song form separate from jazz because of all their different stylistic influences. They were the first band to play at a Concerts by the Bay show (and which was the first financially successful concert presented by Sandy Shore Productions). Each year, Shore asked them to return, always finding a supportive and enthusiastic audience for AA''s music. Through Shore''s close association with Webb and Carmichael, local bassist Dennis Murphy was able to become a part of the band. He''s been recording and touring with them over the past couple years.
"So far, the energy is very positive and things seem to be blossoming," says Murphy from Ft. Worth, Texas where the band played the club, Caravan of Dreams. "Nick''s energy is still with us, and that''s the truth, too. We miss Nick, but John Parsons is a really smoking guitarist."
The opening act, Nova Menco, is a group of brothers who play a unique blend of European, Middle Eastern and North African flamenco-styled music. They should get everyone clapping and snapping their fingers before what is sure to be a sentimental journey for everyone who attends.
Concert by the Bay, Monterey Plaza Hotel, Sunday, 3pm. $40/reserved; $30/ general, BASS outlets and Do Re Mi Music & Video. $5 more at the door, 649-1223.
Anothershow that will knock your socks off is at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Monday night. The John Scofield Band will be playing music from the acclaimed jazz guitarist''s latest album, A Go Go, which features the groove-oriented backing of the popular crossover trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. Produced by Lee Townsend, who also works with well-known jazz guitarists Charlie Hunter and Bill Frisell, the album showcases the gritty, funky-edged style for which Scofield is known. As a trailblazer of the fusion sound of the ''80s, the 46-year-old native of Dayton, Ohio took his association as a sideman with Miles Davis and parlayed it into a career as a leader in his own right, performing with top-notch musicians such as Joe Lovano, Dennis Chambers, and Pat Metheny. His influences of rock, R&B, and funk have made him a favorite among a wide-ranging group of jazz aficionados. At this engagement he is working with two longtime associates of Maceo Parker (saxophonist for James Brown in his early career), Larry Goldings on B3 Hammond organ and Bill Stewart on drums. The band is completed by John Logan on bass.
John Scofield Band, Monday, 7:30pm and 9:30pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, $16 advance, $18 door, 427-2227.
And who says The Uninvited have gotten too big for their britches? Now that they''ve made the move to Igloo/Atlantic Records complete, with publicity rep and new photo, press release, and a scheduled July 21 release date for their eponymous major label debut, you thought you''d never see them around here again, huh? Well, these guys are just not the type to forget their old friends. No, siree. Get yer Air Jordans out for another hoppin'' night at Doc''s with the genre-bending combo of rock, bluegrass, punk, and pop. You''ll fly with party-pandering lyrics on "Too High For The Supermarket" and burn up the floor with their paean to living life to the fullest "Down In Flames." The Tories open, another West Coast band making the climb to the big time at warp speed. Their blend of Beatlesque vocal harmony and crunching melodic rock has caught the attention of the big bosses in the music biz and they''ve been busy on the road with the VH1 "Rock Across America" tour and a two-week gig in Paris where tennis pros Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Todd Martin and others came in to catch their act when not on the red clay of Roland Garros for the French Open. They even got Courier to come onstage to play drums for The Beatles'' "I Saw Her Standing There." Anyways, it''s always a good show with these two bands.
The Uninvited with The Tories, Friday, 9:30pm. Doc''s Nightclub, $7, 649-4241.
We''vegot a new group making its debut performance Thursday at Doc''s. Lesser God (Doc Ferszt, vocals; Gordon Stokes, drums; Jeff Faudem, guitar; Ken Maier, guitar; and Scott Elliott, bass & keyboards) has been keeping a low profile while working on an eight-song CD in their newly built recording studio in Pacific Grove. Faudem, Ferszt and Stokes have known each other since 1985 when they met in Israel and have played in bands together in Nashville before making the move out West. Personally, I can''t wait to hear their hard-edged rock mixed with electronica/techno wizardry. Celebrate with them at their coming-out party.
Lesser God, Thursday, 10:30pm, after opening band TBA, Doc''s Nightclub, no cover, 649-4241.
"Chicago" Steve Barkleyhypnotized me and suggested I tell you his comedy show at McGarrett''s last Saturday went off well and suggested you all should get down there for the next two Saturday shows. People who volunteer to be hypnotized are guaranteed to feel better than they did before, completely rested and alert. And couples will have amazing sex afterwards. He suggested I say that. Yes, Steve, you are the funniest guy I''ve ever met. I love it when you come to my parties. You make me laugh. Folks, I''m not kiddin'' ya, this guy is funny. Go see himmmmmmm.
Hypnotism with a Celtic Twist, Saturday, June 20 & 27. 8:30-10pm. McGarrett''s Nightclub, $6. 646-9244. cw