Jan Akkerman – Tabernakel (1973)

frontcover1This album — which, despite being third in most discographies, was actually Jan Akkerman’s first official solo album — must have been a real shocker to a lot of Focus. Rather than working from the flashy, electric guitar side of the group’s sound, Akkerman chose to expand on the lute sound that he’d explored on Focus III’s “Elspeth of Nottingham.” Tabernakel represented Akkerman at his most formalistic, playing almost entirely in a classical idiom on lute and acoustic and electric guitars (with one brief side trip to the bass). The repertory is drawn largely from 16th century Tudor England, including compositions by John Dowland and Antony Holborne, rearranged by Akkerman and harpsichord virtuoso and scholar George Flynn. He gives one major concession to progressive rock in the form of the fuzz-laden reinterpretation of “House of the King,” which misses the flute part from the Focus original but is still worth hearing as a guitar showcase. Tabernakel is otherwise the real article as far as its classicism — the 14-minute-long “Lammy” comes close to being pretentious without quite crossing the line, and all of the album is a fascinating solo departure for the guitarist. What makes this album doubly intriguing is that apart from Flynn, Akkerman’s accompanists come entirely from the rock world: Tim Bogert, Carmine Appice, and veteran R&B drummer Ray Lucas, none of whom seems to skip a beat in their work here. Recorded at Atlantic Records’ studios in New York and released in 1974, when Focus was still near the peak of its fame, Tabernakel sold reasonably well at the time, but had been unavailable from the late ’70s until 2002, when Wounded Bird Records reissued it in a good-sounding CD edition. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar, lute, bass, harpsichord, piano, glockenspiel, percussion)
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Robert Alexander (trombone on 01. +08.)
Carmine Appice (drums on 04. + 10.)
Harold Bennett (flute on 01., 04. + 08.)
Lawrence Bennett (tenor vocals on 10.)
Eugene Bianco (harp on 08.)
Albert Block (flute on 08.)
Philip Bodner (oboe on 08.)
Tim Bogert (bass on 04. + 10.)
Raymond Crisara (trumpet on 01.)
Richard Davis (bass on 08. + 10.)
George Flynn (harpsichord on 08. + 10., glockenspiel on 08., piano on 08.)
Dominick Gravine (trombone on 01. + 08.)
Stephen M. Johns (tuba on 08.)
Elliot Levine (bass vocals on 10.)
Ray Lucas (drums on 01. + 10.)
Walter Kane (bassoon on 08.)
Josephine Mongiardo (soprano vocals on 10.)
Alan Rubin (trumpet on 08.)
Charles Russo (clarinet on 10.)
Russell Savakus (bass on 01. + 04.)
Daniel Waitzman (flute on 10.)
Joseph Wilder (trumpet on 01.)
William Zukof (countertenor vocals on 10.)
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cello:
Charles McCracken – George Koutzen – George Ricci – Gloria Lanzarone – Jesse Levy – Kermit Moore – Lucien Schmit
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viola:
Alfred Brown – David Sackson – Emanuel Vardi – Richard Maximoff – Selwart Clarke –  Seymour Berman
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violin:
Arnold Eidus – Carmen Malignaggi – David Kunstler – Elliot Rosoff – Frederick Buldrini – Gene Orloff – Guy Lumia – Harold Kohon – Harry Cykman – Joseph Malignaggi – Kathryn Kienke – Lewis Eley – Norman Carr – Raoul Poliakin
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french horn:
Earl Chapin – James Buffington – Ray Alonge – Tony Miranda
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George Flynn (conducter)
Gene Orloff (concertmaster)

backcover

Tracklist:
01. Britannia (Dowland) 3.58
02. Coranto For Mrs. Murcott (Pilkington) 1,30
03. The Earl Of Derby, His Galliard (Dowland) 2.00
04. House Of The King (Akkerman) 2.25
05. A Galliard (Holborne) 2.13
06. A Galliard (Dowland) 1.35
07. A Pavan (Morley) 3.07
08. Javeh (Akkerman/Flynn) 3.24
09. A Fantasy (Laurencini Of Rome) 3.22
10. Lammy: (14.01)
10.01. I Am (Flynn/Akkerman)
10.02.Asleep, Half Asleep, Awake (Akkerman)
10.03. She Is (Flynn/Akkerman)
10.04. Lammy (Flynn/Akkerman)
10.05. We Are (Flynn/Akkerman)
10.06. The Last Will And Testament (Holborne)
10.07. Amen (Flynn/Akkerman)

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booklet

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Focus – Mother Focus (1975)

FrontCover1Focus here featured virtuoso guitarist Jan Akkerman for the last time, not to work with his long-term writing partner Thijs Van Leer for another ten years. Mother Focus also sees Focus’ highly skilled bass player Bert Ruiter try his hand in songwriting. The outcome includes the one of the finest funk tracks on the album — the hilarious “I Need a Bathroom.” The album begins with quite possibly the finest track on the album — and maybe the most typical Focus — the titular “Mother Focus.” The funky theme underlying the number sets the mood for the rest of the LP with aplomb. Indeed, Mother Focus is far from the usual instrumental material. For this reason, Mother Focus may not appeal to the usual fans of the Dutch proggers. The number of feel-good tunes making up the album’s core makes up for the lack of a rocking single in the style of “Hocus Pocus.” A mellower, happier aura permeates the recording as a whole, particularly noticeable in the soothing “Tropic Bird.” Undoubtedly, though, Mother Focus is let down by the lack of Akkerman’s and Thijs’ presence. The whole album cries out for one of them to jump out and take center stage for a while. Instead each track is filled with numerous melodies and rhythms, with only the occasional jaunt from Akkerman. Mother Focus is a fine album in its own right, but maybe not what one would be expecting when taking into account the progressive rock features of their earlier albums. Funk predominates in the last respectable Focus LP. RIP Focus.  (by Den Davies)

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Inner sleeve from Japan

Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
David Kemper (drums)
Thys Van Leer (keyboards, flute)
Bert Ruiter (bass, vocals
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Colin Allen (drums on 02.)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Mother Focus (v.Leer/Ruiter/Akkerman) 3.03
02. I Need A Bathroom (Ruiter) 3.02
03. Bennie Helder (v.Leer) 3.31
04. Soft Vanilla (Ruiter) 3.00
05. Hard Vanilla (Ruiter) 2.35
06. Tropic Bird (Ruiter) 2.42
07. Focus IV (v.Leer) 3.55
08. Someone’s Crying ….. What! (Akkerman)  3.18
09. All Together! ….. Oh That! (Akkerman) 3.40
10. No Hang Ups (Stoppelman)  2.54
11. My Sweetheart (v.Leer/Ruiter/Akkerman) 3.35
12. Father Bach (Bach) 1.30

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Jan Akkerman – North Sea Jazz Festival (2011)

FrontCover1Jan Akkerman (born 24 December 1946) is a Dutch guitarist.

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

Akkerman01Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
Marijn van den Berg (drums)
Wilbrand Meischke (bass)
Coen Molenaar (keyboards)
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Brown Hill (vocals)
Michelle Oudeman (background vocals)
Rebekka Lingh (background vocals)
Patt Riley (background vocals)
Shockwave (rap)
Eric Vloeimans (trumpet)

Tracklist:
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

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