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Acoustic Alchemy Mixes Reggae, Latin, American Music on Eclectic <i>American English</i>

Britain's Acoustic Alchemy pays tribute to American music on its new release, "American English." Add reggae and Latin to the mix and Acoustic Alchemy delivers its most eclectic album to date.

It's not too often you hear funk performed on acoustic guitars. But, having stuck with its original sound for more than two decades, Acoustic Alchemy wouldn't want it any other way.

There wasn't much of an audience for smooth jazz when guitar duo Nick Webb and Simon James formed Acoustic Alchemy in 1981. It was an innovative sound, two guitars as the lead instruments, but it wasn't enough to keep Simon James. His replacement, guitarist Greg Carmichael, signed on just as the smooth jazz phenomenon began taking off in the United States. They performed as an in-flight band on Virgin Atlantic flights to the U.S., ultimately securing a recording contract in 1987.

Riding the rising tide of smooth jazz radio, Acoustic Alchemy produced seven more albums over the next 10 years, before making its last with founding member Nick Webb. He died of cancer as the group prepared to release Positive Thinking in 1998.

Chapter three of the Acoustic Alchemy story opened in 2000 with a new label, a new direction and a new guitarist, Miles Gilderdale. Gilderdale credits the group Steely Dan for inspiring the chord changes on "She Speaks American/English," one of 11 original tracks from Acoustic Alchemy's new album.

There's also "So Kylie," in honor of dance diva Kylie Minogue; "Say Yeah" rooted in R&B; a pop ballad titled "Cherry Hill"; Spanish-flavored ambient music on "The Moon And The Sun"; and the jazzy "14 Carrot Café."