Jan Akkerman — 10,000 Clowns on a Rainy Day
(Superior SU 29506 , 2004, 2CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01
Word is out that Thijs Van Leer has reformed golden age prog band Focus with a flashy new lead guitarist. Clearly, where would Focus be without original shredmeister Jan Akkerman, who earned 70s AM radio attention for the frantic-paced novelty hit “Hocus Pocus”? The six string guitar slinger has since moved on into a jazz fusion vein while keeping a disappointingly low profile (at least in the US). Jan has only surfaced for a few international efforts including the European GuitarSpeak projects and tour almost a decade ago. So what’s he up to now, you ask? Dutch label Patio Music has released a new live album featuring Akkerman with a crackshot band in tow. And he’s reprised and reworked various Focus classics and kept the finessed playing intact. The two disc set cuts across performances from 1995-97, taking the best of newer pieces, and mixing and merging them with new arrangements of Focus material. The end result is a bluesy, rockin’, moody set of instrumentals blending old and new with a sincere depth. Disc one’s high point is the new arrangement of "Eruption," with Akkerman switching to acoustic guitar for the duration. Another track, "Puccini’s Cafe," is a somber blues slice of grace and quiet passion. Disc two is offset by a 17-minute medley including the hit "Sylvia" and seven other spirited pieces. Accompaniment is capably provided by Nico Brandsen (keyboards), Manual Hugas (bass), and Ton Dijkman (drums). A stateside release would be welcome for fans who appreciate a class ensemble playing in a small intimate setting.
Related artist(s): Jan Akkerman
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