On Thursday 14th December I went to see Acoustic Alchemy play at the Pizza Express jazz club, Dean Street, Soho. It was two firsts for me – both the visit to the venue its self and seeing Acoustic Alchemy live – I’d done neither previously. I can now say however that doing both are most certainly worthwhile.
The Pizza Express club in Soho is really unique in its setup. All the tables are small, the ceiling is low and the stage is almost on top of the area where the tables are positioned. This provides a very close and intimate atmosphere in which you can almost reach out and touch the performers in the majority of seating positions. The food and drink of course is up to usual Pizza Express standards.
Acoustic Alchemy are made famous by their smooth jazz style that draws influence from a huge spectrum of jazz and blues music. On CD it is a very pleasent listening experience, one that complements any quiet evening in by the fire or conversation with good friends and the inevitable bottle of wine. Live however the music takes on a new lease of life, vibrant, exciting and captivating.
What really amazed me about their live performance was the depth to the music and how, even in songs I knew well, I could hear so much more there. I was insipired to buy their new album almost immediately after the start of the gig because of the way they played one of the tracks that features on it, The Crossing. The night was made even more special by the special guest appearance of Jeff Kashiwa, a superb jazz saxophonist who has released many a superb smooth jazz album in his own right. Hearing Jeff jam with members of Acoustic Alchemy was really cool and something I was so glad I got the chance to enjoy.
Another fascinating thing about Acoustic Alchemy that I learnt while at the venue was the colourful past of each of its members and indeed the band its self. The group have seen a fair bit of flux with the artists that compose it, and yet have managed to hold on to their unique jazz style – no mean feat. As for individual members, many have played in up to 3 or 4 groups before joining Acoustic Alchemy and it made me proud that I recognised nearly all the group names mentioned, in fact at one point when a name was mentioned only myself and 3 others let out the customary cheer of appretiation that always occurs when a crowd hear the name of a band they know and respect being mentioned by the band they are currently watching.
We left the venue feeling very much elated by the good music we had heard and by the fact we got to speak to each of the band members and Jeff Kashiwa. I came away with both Acoustic Alchemy and Jeff Kashiwa’s latest albums, both of which are nicely signed. Its always the sign of a gig thats gone down well.