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Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel CD (album) cover

TABERNAKEL

Jan Akkerman

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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4 stars So I get to write a 'first' review! A joy here, because this is a favourite album of mine. I bought it when it first came out, being a huge Focus fan and having bought and enjoyed Profile. It's really a strange mixture, with Side One being almost exclusively late Renaissance lute music. Brittania has been worked out a litle and drums/orchestra added to the lute piece - another interesting addition to the rock/classical fusion which yields pleasant results. House of the King is a strange re-arrangement which is an interesting take on the original but not am improvement. The outstanding tracks are Javeh and Lammy, an extended piece with a variety of sections featuring Church Organ, Swiss Cow Bells, Electric Sitar, String Quartet and Church Choir singing Alleluia. An album to be highly recommended alongside Profile even if you may find yourself selecting your favourite tracks rather than playing this end to end.
Report this review (#70132)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Arguably Jan Akkerman`s best solo project and the one with the most appeal for fans of seventies progressive rock with Akkerman in full classical modus operandi. Collaborating with American composer George Flynn and a full orchestra the album was released at a time when his band Focus was at the peak of it`s popularity and Akkerman was being praised by guitar freaks on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album begins marvelously with an updated version of John Dowland`s Britannia (that could very well be mistaken for a Focus piece) with orchestrations and a rock rythmn section being added to Akkerman`s Lute. Most of side one or the introductory part of the CD is taken up with Akkerman playing baroque lute pieces with no accompaniment. A flute-less upbeat version of Focus`House of the King appears on track 4 with Akkerman playing the flute parts on his Les Paul which is rigged up to sound like a sitar. Not as evocative as the Focus original but interesting nonetheless. The latter part gets into some experimentation, blending rock and classical stylings in the form of Javeh and Lammy which were co-written with George Flynn. Lammy is an extended piece in sevral movements with full orchestration and even includes a drum solo and sitar sounding guitar riffing which leads into a rock trio section with some fluid guitar soloing from Akkerman painting itself into some happier sounding guitar phrasings. It concludes with church-like proceedings with a choir and church organ.The piece seems to conceptually trace the lifetime of a tragic figure. Something like that anyway.

Suprerb album with Akkerman at his finest demonstrating his learned compositional and interprative prowess. Fans of Focus will not want to miss this gem. Re-issued on CD on Wounded Bird Records.

Report this review (#79794)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
thagemeister@
5 stars Although gaining recognition for his electric prowess and avant-garde leads, one never really gets a grasp of the depth of his acoustic mastery until Tabernakel. A true musical craftsman on the lute as well as classical guitar, there is no doubt that Jan is one of the most well rounded guitarists of the last 30 years. No true music lover will regret buying this one. Listening to this album is not only good therapy but close to a spiritual experience!
Report this review (#80397)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jan certainly pulls out all stops here to express his classical leanings. Next to Steve Howe, I can say that Jan is certainly one of the most diversified prog guitarists. Working with a great back-up including Vanilla Fudge alumnus Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice along with a full orchestra, Jan goes for baroque, jazz and European folk. All in all, a well crafted album. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#85200)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Akkerman's best solo effort.

A rock guitar god playing a lute and making renaissancy musical pieces! A fantastic gem. Just the more electric version of House of the King gives a strange and unnecesary contrast and I think it's an excuse for Ray Lucas' skills as a drummer... but it doesn't prevent my solid five stars to this masterpiece. Javeh and the long Lammy are experimental prog suites, Akkerman style. If you like the rennaisance music (like me), you'll enjoy the rest of the tracks too much.

Get it anyway. J. A. is an impressive player in any style.

P.D.: My english isn't the best. I'm sorry...

Report this review (#109276)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Soundtrack for a Renaissance Festival

Half of this album is a real renaissance treat. There were moments like this on "Profile" but on "Tabernakel" Jan really indulges us with time travel. A good chunk of Tabernakel consists of period music with Jan playing lute and acoustic guitars. This stuff is phenomenally beautiful, well done, and an absolute must for people who love acoustic music of any kind. The only low point in this first part of the album is the unfortunate "House of the King" which seems oddly out of place compared to the material around it.

And then there is the 14 minute "Lammy" following the layout on Profile where you get one long track amongst the many shorter ones. Does it work? I used to think so though in my recent pre-review spins I'm not so sure. There are some nice moments but there's also quite a bit of pointless noodling in this track. Things begin with a dramatic chorus of voices and spacey meditative section before the drums kick in around the 3 minute mark. Jan has some guests on this track including George Flynn, Tim Bogert, and Carmine Appice who just smokes in places. At 4 plus minutes the bass finally joins the fray followed by Jan's lead guitar. Now things begin to cook for a bit until the chorus ushers in a gorgeous mellow section around 8 minutes complete with strings. From this point forward is the strongest part of the song. Things build quite nicely with electric leads coming back over the strings. At 12 minutes the strum of a classical guitar shifts things again as Daniel Waitzman's flutes come in. Around 13 minutes the heavenly sounding choir vocals return to close the piece with Amen. A better second half than first half.

Jan and Focus fans likely have this album already but I would also recommend it to fans of old period music and acoustic music fans. For the rest of the prog base it's a toss-up. Good, but closer to 3 stars than 4.

Report this review (#126858)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars While Jan Akkerman's 1974 solo album is a pretty fair showcase of his multi-instrumental talents in a mostly acoustic, indeed almost ancient setting, I must say that he was beaten to the punch by several years by the much more obscure Amazing Blondel with their first 3 Island albums. Moreover, Blondel added glorious harmonies and evocative lyrics to an equally rich musical mixture. Pieces like the galliards and the pavans leave me wondering about other dimensions that may have existed in the music when originally performed - not just the vocals but the dances and the other instrumentation.

Now, Akkerman does venture into areas never explored by the much folkier Blondel, particularly in the lengthy "Lammy" and "House of the King", both of which have a certain appeal but also break with the mood of the recording. The album succeeds best on other tracks that evoke textures and include more participation from the ensemble, the best of these being "Brittania", with participants feeding off and inspiring one another. "Earl of Derby" ups the ante on personal virtuosity and succeeds as such. Unfortunately, the majority of the selections sound more solo-ish and desperately in need of a greater context. Recommended mostly for Focus completists and fans of musical prodigies.

Report this review (#132109)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With all the brilliancy present in the "Profile" album, I have to prefer "Tabernakel" as the most accomplished exposition of Jan Akkerman's main interests as an art-rock devotee (performer and creator) during his glorious days back in the 70s. The reason why is that I find this album more cohesive in comparison, with a more fluid management of the acoustic pieces (quite predominant here, indeed), as well as a more powerful development of his epic side. The dominant presence of pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque age justifies the strong presence of lute and Spanish guitar, but this is far from your regular chamber music recording - Akkerman knows how to explore these historical paths without assuming an archeologist's role, instead being a re-creator with his own peculiar trend about other people's heritage. 'Brittania' opens up the album with evocative lute lines, and then soon enough, the rhythm section joins in a very controlled manner; the string ensemble adds some moderate exuberance to the developing affair. Other pieces are played with a solo lute or Spanish guitar, which allows Akkerman to state a sense of delicate intimacy and/or reflective serenity. Personally, I think the best acoustic piece is 'Javeh', an Akkerman-penned number that states an ambience friendly with contemporary chamber: the use of cleverly dissonant progressions, effective empty spaces, plus some occasional orchestral interventions that reinforce the delicate tension between sound and silence through the track's development. This sense of weird beauty is properly filled with an aura of mystery, which probably is related to the allusions in the track's title: this is the conventional name for the most mysterious entity of the Universe. Now, let's pay attention to the few electric pieces in the album. The new version of 'House of the King' features a duality of electric guitar and electric sitar with orchestral augmentations and a slightly more expansive arrangement. Since a few classically oriented pieces preceded it, this 'House of the King' serves as a catalyzer of the majestic drive that had only been present in a delicate manner until then. The other electric piece is 'Lemmy', the suite that closes down the album. It includes cuasi-Wagnerian choral arrangements, organ sustained layers that trace Gothic airs, a jazz-fusion section washed by moderate funky flavors, an extensive climatic passage with an introspective intention and a pompous attitude that eventually leads to a beautiful coda led by a dialogue between lute and harpsichord. This has to be Akkerman's most brilliant compositional effort, and definitely, it fits and immensely dignifies the artistic pretensions of symphonic rock. Akkerman's "Tabernakel" is a must for any serious prog collector: debates may go on about this album being superior or inferior to the usually more celebrated "Profile", but the fact remains that it is a mandatory item in any good prog collection.

(I dedicate this review to my friend Dante Nieri, a real Focus fan).

Report this review (#182163)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel (1974)

What do you have to like in order to be able to listen to this record? Renaissance Lute (folkguitar) music (side one) and Eclectic conceptual Jazz rock (side two). What a stupid combination, but what a fine record we have here!

The lute music on side one sounds like it was directly dirived from the ancient Courts of England with some additional arrangements of orchestration and fluite. The tracks are beautifull and will be very interesting for fans of ex-Genesis Anthony Phillips. Side one is however not really my cup of tea and most of the time I only listen to side 2.

Side two. After one short lute song the epic 'Lammy' starts. By now there is 100% shift of sound to a professional fusion group with eclectic influences. The opening part is a very inspired and dark track with only choirs and church organ. After this a fusion track of jazz + Eastern music changes the mood with a warm gentle sound. After this we get a more recognisable piece of Jan Akkerman's guitar orientated jazz-rock. Great solo's on a fast track with great drums. Almost as good as Fresh Air (of the Profile album). With a comeback of the dark organ/chord opentheme we get launched into the next song. The Last will and testament part of the song is a nice melodic jazzrock track with great symphonic arrengements and gentle moods. A great composition that will appeal to a lot of people. The closing section of the epic is sung by a choir. A great composion again and a great devoted ending of this epic. One of my favourite tracks of Jan Akkerman/

Conlusion. Side one is an aquired taste and side two has a perfect eclectic fusion masterpiece. Side one gets three stars and side two get's five, which results in a four star rating for Tabernakel.

Report this review (#244871)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I was quite surprised about Jan Akkerman's placement in the Jazz-Rock/Fusion category after previously only hearing Tabernakel. Still, the shock that Focus fans must have received when purchasing this record back in the day must have been even more overwhelming since Akkerman incorporates very few themes from his band effort into this release.

The electric guitar is used very sparsely while giving more space to its acoustic counterpart, lute and organ. Even though two drummers are credited for their contribution, Tabernakel is mainly an acoustic affair with a few minor and one major exception to that rule. The album starts off with Britannia By John Dowland that was previously performed by Akkerman during his solo spot on the 1973 Focus At The Rainbow. This new take on the classic composition is much richer in its texture with orchestral sound backing up Jan Akkerman's performance. After two short acoustic pieces we get an out-of-the-blue drum intro that kicks off House Of The King with a bang. This is of course a re-recording of the the classic Focus track from their debut but with even more beauty added to it by the orchestral arrangement.

The remainder of side one carries on in the same stripped down acoustic tradition with only the slightly more mysterious sounding Javeh preparing us for what is about to happen on side two. A Fantasy By Laurencini Of Rome starts things off just where side one had left them with all the galliards preceding it. Once the first choir sounds of Lammy are heard it becomes obvious that something completely different is about to go down over the course of this 14 minute composition. We get an insight in many different sides of Jan Akkerman with even a section that can actually be described as fusion!

Even if I do enjoy all the individual moments that Tabernakel has to offer, I find it difficult to see it as one album since the different styles and compositions don't always necessarily work together that well. Still, there are enough interesting highlights that make me want to revisit this album from time to time and, thought that, giving me a better understanding for this release as a whole.

***** star songs: Britannia By John Dowland (3:59)

**** star songs: Coranto For Mrs Murcott By Francis Pilkington (1:30) The Earl of Derby, His Galliard By John Dowland (2:00) House Of The King (2:25) A Galliard By Anthonie Holborne (2:13) A Galliard By John Dowland (1:35) A Pavan By Thomas Morley (3:08) Javeh (3:25) A Fantasy By Laurencini Of Rome (3:22) Lammy (14:05)

Report this review (#291412)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
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

Report this review (#778934)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Review Permalink

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