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Jan Akkerman - Live at Alexanders CD (album) cover

LIVE AT ALEXANDERS

Jan Akkerman

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.00 | 1 ratings

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BORA
3 stars So near - yet so far.

At some stage Dutch master Akkerman was likened to John McLaughlin. Well, that may be a bit far fetched, but truth is that Akkerman is a very skilled musician. On a good day he is sensational, at other times he can be quite the opposite. This performance at a small club lies somewhere in-between.

At first listen it was quite a disappointment to me for a number reasons. Primarily, the performance is hurried from beginning to end as if he just wanted to get over and done with. (reminiscent of Zappa's approach on many live performances) If you are familiar with the original tunes, it represents a degree of irritation, a degree of alienating interpretation of some otherwise fine compositions.

Starting off with a pared down skeleton of "Hocus Pocus" that abruptly changes to "Pietons" back and forth - for no good reason. "Pietons" in it's original release is a great, groovy tune where the melody bears a striking resemblance to Miles Davis' "Jean-Pierre".

"Crackers" also suffers from the "treadmill" approach of just grinding it through fast. Fine runs on the guitar, a drum solo, but the essence of the original composition is severely compromised by the speed.

"Mercy, mercy, mercy"? Ah Jan, please have mercy! One of the sexiest, most endearing Jazz tunes written by Joe Zawinul in the 60s when he was in Cannonball Adderley's band. Akkerman recorded it a number of times before. Here it's barely recognizable, an absolute butcher job. The intermittent switches to Reggae rhythms is just inexplicable! Thumbs down - big time.

"Tommy" of Focus fame represents a pleasant interlude for a change.

"Pool House Blues" is an enjoyable Shuffle where the up-tempo beat is more justified.

"Sylvia's Grandmother" - contrary to her age - is another fast moving piece that would have benefited from some sedatives...

"My Pleasure" is an Akkerman signature tune. This 17 mins long delivery allows for some fine "shredding, another mediocre drum solo, a slap bass solo and altogether, one of the better pieces of this record.

Generally, the support musicians play quite well, but nothing is really outstanding. It's hard to tell if they weren't meant to excel, restrained, or just should have rehearsed more? I'd like to assume that they could have done better, but here they are no match to Focus.

My overall impression is that "Live at Alexander's" didn't do much good for Akkerman's reputation and perhaps should have been buried in the vaults.

Musicianship 4, end result 3.

BORA | 3/5 |

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