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14.9.12

Jan Akkerman

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Jan Akkerman- C.U. - 2003 - Coast to Coast

When former Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman came to the UK for a tour a few years ago, he brought with him a clutch of new compositions that had the making of a superb fusion album. Needless to say, the tunes never really surfaced again but their lineage can be detected on this new CD. Aided by his keyboard player Jeroen Rietbergen and bassist Willy Meischke, (who get writing credits on several tracks) 'CU' nods a head to contemporary dance beats whilst Akkerman's trademark guitar licks remain intact. Produced with and featuring Rietbergen's popular Dutch band 'Soulvation' this approach melds Akkerman's always percussive rhythm guitar and fluid solo lines with fat synth programming, jazzy keyboard fills, and drum beats. The die-hard Akkerman fans will hopefully relish this new style because it is always grounded in the guitarist's consummate good taste and ear for a pretty melody and there are plenty of familiar motifs to provide an anchor if one were needed. More important, this CD may pull in new listeners who will be drawn to the very relevant and contemporary feel, and once hooked will almost certainly want to know more about this fantastic guitar player. There are not many guitarists around today of Akkerman's versatility and fewer of his stature would take such risks as this. But, then, Akkerman was never an easy guitarist to pigeon-hole and the overall feeling is that here is a player having fun and enjoying himself. After hearing tracks like 'See You', 'I'm In The Mood' and the exquisite 'Cotton Bay', others will do too. **** Review by & © David Randall © http://www.getreadytorock.com/reviews/jan_akkerman1.htm

On his first outing since 2000, Amsterdam's best-known guitarist, Jan Akkerman, issues a smooth electric jazz date full of twists and turns with material that ranges from a slinky funk cover of the Isley Brothers' "In Between the Sheets" to the full-on house music of "Urbanstring." It's an unfocused batch of tunes to be sure, but the thing that holds them together is Akkerman's trademark spare, single-string style that never gets in the way of the groove. It's hard to point out what might have compelled him to make this record, but fans will delight in it nonetheless. © Thom Jurek © 2012 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/cu-mw0000208761

Jan Akkerman is one of the most innovative and influential guitarists of modern times. He was once selected as the world's greatest guitarist by the influential British rock publication, Melody Maker. Often, these accolades are unmerited and artificial, and do not always reflect true ability, but in Jan Akkerman's case, the title was richly deserved. Jan has proved his greatness with bands like the Hunters, Brainbox and the great Focus. Most of his solo works are marvellous works of originality, incredible guitar technique, and cover ever musical genre. He is one of the very few guitarists who can play any style of music equally well, anything from rock and blues to Spanish and classical. As stated before on this blog, the terms, world's greatest guitarist, best guitarist of all time, etc, etc, are "bandied" around a lot. However if we take some of the definitions of great, like "of outstanding significance or importance", "superior in quality or character", "powerful; influential", or "remarkable or out of the ordinary in degree or magnitude or effect", then Jan Akkerman is truly a great guitarist, as all the aforementioned definitions apply to Jan's playing. "I just don't live a very regular life. That's true. For instance, I don't even wear a watch. But I'm very much disciplined as far as playing the guitar is concerned". "Disciplined" is just one of many words that could be applied to Jan Akkermans playing ! "C.U." has received much criticism because of the electronic/techno/disco nature of the album and some would say overuse of drum synthesizers. Many fans were disappointed with the album as it is not strictly an electric guitar based album. "hdfisch" on Prog Archives says that "Here you won't find anything interesting for you by this otherwise excellent guitarist. This albums presents a mixture of lounge jazz, some techno beats, some rhythm & blues and disco rhythms. Could work well as party music but if you like to listen to Akkerman's more decent work check out his 70's albums like Tabernakel, Profile or his self-titled one. This one is to be recommended only for completionists (1,5 stars)!" There are many Jan Akkerman fans worldwide. There are those who prefer his rock and fusion style albums, others his acoustic classical work. However there is no denying Jan Akkerman's incredible talent as a guitarist. This album is not "Focus at the Rainbow", and Jan Akkerman never intended it to be, but any lover of great guitar should appreciate it. Jan has done almost anything a musician could possibly do. He has worked with musicians like BB King, Charlie Byrd, Cozy Powell, Claus Ogerman and Ice-T. There are no limits or boundaries in music that Jan has not crossed. He remains one of the world's greatest and most versatile guitarists with many great albums to his credit. Any Jan Akkerman album is always a revelation, simply because of the man's eclectic style and willingness to try something different. "C.U." is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to his "Tabernakel" album and of course Focus' classic "Live At The Rainbow" album, and search this blog for other Jan Akkerman related releases [Tracks @ 243-320 Kbps: File size = 107 Mb]

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1 See You - M. Muleta 7:59
2 In Between The Sheets - Rudolph Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Ronald Isley, Ernest Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper 6:19
3 I'm In The Mood - M. Muleta 5:43
4 Dance The Blues Away - M. Muleta 5:56
5 Cottonbay - M. Muleta 10:07
6 Kloenk - J. Rietbergen, R. Molendijk 5:57
7 Blowing - W. Meischke 4:47
8 Slow Man - M. Muleta, J. Rietbergen, R. Molendijk 6:31
9 Urbanstring - W. Meischke, M. Muleta, J. Rietbergen, R. Molendijk 4:54

MUSICIANS

Jan Akkerman - Guitar
Wilbrand Meischke - Bass on Tracks 2 - 9
Jeroen Rietbergen - Keyboards, Keyboard Programming
Ronald Molendijk - Additional Keyboards, Drum Programming
Michel van Schie - Drums, Drum Programming

BIO

A musician of nearly legendary prowess, Jan Akkerman for a time eclipsed Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck among reader polls in England as the top guitarist in the world. Akkerman was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and showed his musical inclinations early, taking up the guitar while still in grade school. His taste and interests were extraordinarily wide-ranging, from pop/rock to classical, with room for blues, Latin, and other influences. He joined his first band, Johnny & His Cellar Rockers, in 1958, at age 11, which included his boyhood friend Pierre van der Linden on drums. Later on, the two were members of the Hunters, an instrumental group whose sound was heavily influenced by that of the Shadows. He acquired a special interest in the lute while on a visit to England during the mid-'60s, during which he saw a performance by legendary classical guitarist Julian Bream, whose repertoire of medieval works also fascinated Akkerman. This interest, which broadened to embrace a fixation on medieval England and its countryside, later manifested itself in such works as "Elspeth of Nottingham" from Focus III. During the late '60s, Akkerman, van der Linden, bassist Bert Ruiter, and singer Kaz Lux formed Brainbox, who were good enough to get a recording contract with Parlophone Records. He was involved with an early incarnation of the group Focus, founded by conservatory-trained flutist Thijs Van Leer, but didn't join until after that group had issued its unsuccessful debut album -- he took van der Linden with him from Brainbox and, with Van Leer and bassist Cyril Havermans (later succeeded by Ruiter) from the original Focus, formed a new group of that name. With Akkerman's virtuoso guitar work and arrangements coupled to Van Leer's classical influence (and his yodeling on their breakthrough hit, "Hocus Pocus"), the new group found a large international audience beginning in 1972, which transformed Akkerman into a superstar guitarist. His solo career actually dated from 1968, though his attempt at a solo album, later titled Guitar for Sale -- containing his covers of numbers such as "What'd I Say," "Ode to Billy Joe," and "Green Onions" -- was so primitive by the standards of the time that it was deemed unreleasable until Akkerman started topping reader surveys in the mid-'70s. Profile, released in 1972 after he'd begun making some headway with his reputation, also dated from 1969 and his days with Brainbox. Akkerman's first real solo album reflecting his music and interests at the time appeared in 1974, in the form of Tabernakel, which was recorded during the summer of that year at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York -- having finally acquired a medieval lute of his own, he taught himself to play it and the results comprise more than half of this LP, made up of authentic medieval music and originals composed in a medieval mode. It was certainly the most unusual record ever to feature the playing of Tim Bogart (bass) and Carmine Appice (drums), as well as soul drummer Ray Lucas. After leaving Focus in 1976, Akkerman began releasing a stream of solo albums, which frequently embraced classical, jazz, and blues, and started leading his own bands. Much of his work during the 1980s wasn't released officially outside of Holland, but his periodic recordings with Van Leer, coupled with efforts to revive Focus with its two major stars, kept his name circulating in international music circles. The only problem that Akkerman faces derives from the sheer eclecticism of his work, which makes him very difficult to categorize -- two different branches of Tower Records in the same city listed him as a jazz and a rock artist, respectively, but one could just as easily make a claim for him as a classical artist.

3 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

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ratso said...

Hi Mr F. I just played 'Mother Focus' a personal favourite by his alma mater Focus. They were a seriously under-rated band in the Antipodes. I shall enjoy this new oeuvre, and thank you for making it available.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, ratso. No probs, mate. Focus were a class outfit who released some great albums. Jan is in my top 5 list of greatest guitarists, and Focus at the Rainbow is in my top 10 list of albums. Thanks a million, & TTU soon....P