Dutch Guitarist Jan Akkerman first came to international attention in the 1970s when he fronted the band Focus together with keyboardist Thijs van Leer. After a few successful singles such as “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia” – which were somewhat surprising for a progressive rock band from that era, Akkerman left the band to concentrate on solo projects.
In fact, Akkerman’s career both preceded and succeeded the Focus years; born in 1946, he first performed at the tender age of 12. He is not only a fine virtuoso guitarist but also has an unusually wide range of references, ranging from Renaissance and Baroque lute music (mostly arranged for guitar) on albums like “Tabernakel”, through self penned acoustic guitar solos (often on nylon-string classical guitar) and on to the prog rock that he became best known for.
In amongst his solo albums are also some choice jazz cuts, mostly in a kind of jazz-lite funky vein. “Old Tennis shoes” and “Funkology” from the 1986 album “The Complete Guitarist” are good examples, with more found on “C.U.” from 2004. Overall his back catalogue ticks the boxes “interesting” and “adventurous” more often than not, with some top-notch soloing in evidence.
After an absence of some 20 years Akkerman toured the U.K in the late 1990s and continues to do so on a fairly regular basis. He’s here this time in support of his latest release “Minor Details” (Digimode), but expect some reference to the 20 or so previous albums and – who knows – maybe some of the old Focus favourites too. Worth catching, and not just for those into 70’s nostalgia.
janakkerman.com. Photo: Langcaster