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JAN AKKERMAN Minor Details Digimode (2011)

Jan Akkerman

A new Jan Akkerman album is always a revelation, not least because he is not the most prolific of players in terms of album releases.

Minor Details is the follow-up to 2003's 'C.U.' (yes, it is that long ago) and has been produced 'virtually' via the Internet together with his regular band mates and germinated whilst on tour in Brazil last year. The production doesn't suffer at all for this.

In terms of Akkerman's hallowed guitar-ing, the Focus days do seem as distant a memory as Thijs van Leer with hair and this 70 minute plus offering continues the jazz fusion vibe of his late 1980s albums and indeed that of its immediate predecessor.

Guitarophiles may debate the man's current 'tone' and technique, even the familiar motifs, but there is no denying he has never lost his way with a melody or an intriguing song title.

In places there is a definite Steely Dan thing going on (notably 'Dinner Time') and a Santana-esque 'Searching For Angela'. 'Joy' - with Akkerman deploying wah - features one of two guest appearances from Dutch jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans in a Miles Davis-fuelled funk romp. But only on 'Mena Muria' is there anything approaching a Focus vibe (as in 'Focus I' and Focus II').

It's just a pity that, again, Akkerman has failed to interrogate his hard drive and offer up some arguably superior fusion work that he brought to the UK back in 2000. There may be a lack of killer melodies on this album aka 'Cotton Bay' on 'C.U.' (although the broody 'Kharmah Chantalah' comes close) but overall it smacks of a good groove and well suited to warm weather and late nights.

In that context there is nothing really of revelation here, just plenty of examples of Akkerman's good taste and his cohorts' fine musicianship. It will mostly appeal to his loyal fanbase. Job done.


Review by David Randall


Gig review (April 2011)

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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