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Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel CD (album) cover


Jan Akkerman


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.79 | 67 ratings

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4 stars As a late teenager, Jan Akkerman traveled to London in the mid-60s and was moved by a medieval concert performance by master Julian Bream on the lute. While his reputation soon became legendary on electric guitar with Brainbox and Focus, he also excelled on acoustic guitar as well as lute, reminding us of fellow contemporary axeman Phillips, Hackett and Howe. This album showcases three elements of Akkerman's talent, a series of medieval/baroque pieces from classical composers John Dowland, Thomas Morley, Francis Pilkington, Anthonie Holborne and Laurencini of Rome.

"Brittania" is quite the musical accomplishment, supremely elegant and dignified, especially when supported by the delicate orchestration that seeks only to edify the theme. Ray Lucas taps his drum kit sprightly, not wishing to bash the grandeur into any kind of submissive pose. In fact, the main melody is quite bold and chivalrous, keeping pace with a certain mood that is so typically British. The very brief "Coranto for Mrs. Murcott" is a sensual lute display, Jan flicking his lute with gusto, mannerism and a fair amount of flair. The pastoral "The Earl of Derby" sustains the baroque mood, echoing brilliantly with a flurry of technical phrasings that showcase Akkerman's mastery over his stringed instruments.

There will also be a mellower reworking of "House of the King" (originally performed on Focus III) as well as another Akkerman-penned tune "Javeh". The first is not as interesting as the original and has wound up on many other Focus and Akkerman albums, so it's a skip for me as it has no business being here. A duo of "Galliards" follow, one by Holborne and the other by Dowland, both deliciously evoking a court scene or a lavish banquet for the knights, with jongleurs, raconteurs, troubadours and minstrels all vying for the attention of the attending nobility. A more bucolic and serene "A Pavan" is next and it only adds more beauty to the set list. Delightfully vivid and exalting medieval selections that take you back to the very early days of prog , well before the Crimson Kings , the Gentle Giants, the Gryphons and the Tulls.

"Javeh" is a very high point of instinctive musical genius, expertly played on guitar, lute, harpsichord, a slew of strings including a most seductive violin, as well as various orchestral adornments to heighten the glory. Jan's fingers are lightning fast and lethally precise without being show offish. "The Fantasy" is reverential, universal and respectful, seeing Akkerman shining on his trembling strings as he plucks them with manifest desire and technical savvy.

Lastly an epic 14 minute prog rock affair called "Lammy" that features ex-Vannilla Fudge Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice (just having finished their gig with Jeff Beck) and it smokes as expected. Blasting into the stars with organ and choir, you almost expect Moses to show up with another set of commandments. A more ambient passage of iridescent streaks of sound, effects including various percussives and bells, only prop up the arrival of sitar-like shimmering that gets that heavy-jazz rhythmic treatment, bouncing bass and shuffling drums, who indulges in quite a drum solo, before the sweltering Bogert sets the next course of action, gently letting Akkerman's stinging licks enter the fray. Jan lets loose in a frantic display of rapid-fire genius, dribbling wildly like Johann Cruyff, caressing, mauling and at times abusing his fret board, proving once again his status among the guitar gods. A return to the opening angst only gives further fuel to the fire, yet the opposite happens, a deliriously beautiful passage of grandiose lavishness takes court, insanely well ministered by the sweeping orchestral colorations. Not all classical and rock collaborations worked back in the 70s but on this piece, they both clicked, apart and together. Akkerman was the outright master of making his guitar meow like a cat, a feat often replicated throughout his discography. A great piece of music that is put to bed with some more choral work, purely heavenly!

4 Dutch chests

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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