Akkerman is a distinctive guitar player, constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. Akkerman’s distinctive sound is characterised by his pioneering use of volume swells which produce a smooth, fluty, sustained tone, and other complex techniques such as sweep picking, tapping, and high-speed alternate picking. He also pioneered the use of the lute in a rock band, reflecting his interest in medieval and Renaissance music and culture. He first reached world acclaim in the 1970s when he was seen as the core of the Dutch rock band Focus, together with Thijs van Leer.
Akkerman was born near the Waterlooplein, in the center of Amsterdam, the son of a scrap iron trader. At age five he took guitar lessons and his first single was released in 1960, when he was thirteen years old. He was a member of Johnny and his Cellar Rockers, The Hunters (with whom he scored the 1966 Dutch pop hit “Russian Spy and I”) and Brainbox (which also garnered several Dutch hit singles, including a cover of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe”).
Akkerman joined the Thijs van Leer Trio in late 1969 which, as the nascent band Focus was the pit band for the Dutch theatrical production of “Hair” (recorded as an album in 1969). Continuing under the name Focus, the band explored the progressive rock genre (an amalgam of classical, jazz, and rock music in short and extended instrumentals) and scored a few worldwide hits in the seventies (the singles “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia” and the certified Gold albums “Moving Waves” and Focus III). In 1973 Akkerman was chosen ‘Best Guitarist in The World’ by the readers of the UK magazine, Melody Maker. His standing was such that he teamed up with manufacturer Framus to produce one of the first ‘signature’ guitar models.
In early 1976 Akkerman left Focus and continued his solo career, and collaborations with other musicians. The concept album “Eli”, recorded with Kaz Lux on vocals, won the Dutch Edison Award for best album in 1976.
A brief Focus reunion with Thijs van Leer in 1985 came in the form of several concerts supported by an album which turned out to be unsuccessful. The classic Focus lineup also reunited in 1990 for the Dutch television program “Goud van Oud” (Old Gold) for one last time. Akkerman continued to produce several albums. At the same time he was active as a session musician with André Hazes and others. He also played alongside Alan Price, Herman Brood, Peter Banks, Phil Collins, Jack Bruce, Charlie Byrd, Ice-T, Paco De Lucia, and B.B. King.
In 1992 he was involved in a serious car accident, but resumed playing in 1993. In the late 1990s, after an absence of nearly 20 years, he was persuaded to tour the UK again and has continued to do so on a regular basis. He writes for the Dutch magazine GitaarPlus.
In 2011, Akkerman released his latest album, “Minor Details”. (by wikipedia)
In the same year, he played at the wellknown Noth Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam and this show demonstrate the many abbilities of Akkerman´s guitar playing. Marvelous !
(It´s an excellent TV-broadcast recording !)
Recorded live at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2011
on July 10, 2011 in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
Marijn van den Berg (drums)
Wilbrand Meischke (bass)
Coen Molenaar (keyboards)
Brown Hill (vocals)
Michelle Oudeman (background vocals)
Rebekka Lingh (background vocals)
Patt Riley (background vocals)
Eric Vloeimans (trumpet)
01. The Zebra (Akkerman) 9.35
02. Tranquiliser (Akkerman) 9.46
03. You Do Something To Me (Weller) 5.02
04. Streetwalker (Akkerman) 7.37
05. Pietons (Akkerman) 6.22
06. Hocus Pocus (Akkerman/v.Leer) 5.11
07. Sylvia (v.Leer) 5.33