Back in the early to mid seventies, there was a Dutch rock group called Focus that put out a song, Hocus Pocus, that had the most irritating vocal I’ve ever heard. The singer, Thijs van Leer, just screeched this awful yodeling-like rift that I absolutely hated. However, Focus’s guitarist, Jan Akkerman, was special.
Akkerman was born December 24th, 1946 near Waterlooplein in Amsterdam. He was the son of a scrap iron trader and began taking guitar lessons at the age of five. In 1960 at the age of 13, he released his first single. In 1969 he joined the Thijs van Leer trio, which eventually turned into Focus. Their music was classified in the progressive rock genre, but personally I classify it with a word that is used to describe something that falls out of the north end of a southbound male cow.
Jan left Focus in 1976 and blossomed into an incredibly versatile guitarist. Since then he’s worked with BB King, Charlie Byrd, Cozy Powell, Claus Ogerman and Ice-T. He experiments constantly with equipment, guitars, and his sound that is characterized by flute-like tone, and volume swells achieved through sweep picking, tapping, and lightning speed cross picking. These days his music a cross between smooth jazz and jazz fusion and he is excellent. His interest in medieval and Renaissance music led him to use the lute in his band. Jan is a virtuoso and musical innovator and I think you’re going to like him. But just so you have an appreciation for where is now and where he came from, I’ve included “Hocus Pocus” for your listening…maybe not enjoyment. Make sure the crystal is secure when you listen to it. Enjoy!
Central Station: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfHhz2_hGag
The 2011 North Sea Jazz Festival: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX5mIihLB2k&feature=related
North Sea Jazz Festival concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX5mIihLB2k&feature=related
While my guitar gently weeps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32X_vMgloow&feature=related
My wife and I drank our last bottle of Giles Gelin Fleurie, a 2009 extra special Beaujolais. I reviewed it about a year ago and it’s just as good now as it was then.
Bright ruby color with explosive aromas of strawberries and cherries. Lots of tart cherry flavors, almost Pinot Noir-like. Good acidity balanced with mild tannins make for an excellent bottle to enjoy with the guitar wizardry of Dutchman Jan Akkerman.