Jan Ackerman’s self-titled album infused with jazz rock

18th May 2016

Title: Jan Akkerman

Label: Esoteric

Without wanting to start an argument on celestial guitar players, when you start calling someone ‘God’, think carefully. This man probably had more reason to receive that accolade than most, however. A legendary figure whose shining moment was being part of the Dutch prog outfit, Focus, Akkerman quickly rose to prominence off the back of his virtuoso guitar work and arrangements. His solo career dated from 1968 with Guitar for Salebut properly hit its stride via 1972’s Profile. The problem with Akkerman has always been his momentous talent. In some ways, it has been too broad and he’s attempted to do too much all at once. Is he a rock genius or an experimental jazz instrumentalist musician or perhaps a classical musician?

This album was not one of his best yet, even saying that, it features superb guitar work and many excellent tracks. Spanning a range of jazz-rock, Akkerman doesn’t try to hog the limelight. In fact, this is also a good showcase for both Pierre van der Linden’s accomplished drumming and an effective showcase for Joachim Kuhn’s talents on the electric piano. You could say that Akkerman is apt to retreat and become ‘one of the guys’ in this album. He’s not even as prominent as his Focus days. Saying that, there is much for his fans to appreciate in and around his compatriots.

This edition, complete with bonus track, has been newly remastered and by george it shows too. Akkerman’s sublime opening track, Crackers presents his guitar in a rich, low series of frequencies that are focused to enhance the clarity at the lower end of the sonic spectrum. There is zero blooming around the bass which means that this area of the sound output is tight, springy and punchy while, on a decent system, you can hear the great man tackle individual strings which says a lot for the space and air that prevents frequency crowding. The latter can crowd the music so much that you can’t separate one sound from the next.

The excellent mastering on this edition allows each instrumentalist to fully express themselves.