Jan Akkerman - Biography
'Close Beauty' is the title of Jan Akkerman's new studio album, his debut for Mascot Label Group. The distinctive 'Akkerman-sound' runs like a thread through twelve compositions.
Acoustic, electric, solo performing and accompanied by his own band: 'Close Beauty' can be considered as one of Jan's most varied works, while this record is his first album in almost 30 years that also gets a vinyl release. With 'Close Beauty', Jan proves that he still ranks among the top of Dutch guitarists and composers.
For over 55 years, Jan Akkerman (1946) is one of Holland's most respected and influencial guitar players. Besides his work with international acclaimed groups such as Brainbox and Focus he teams up with a variety of international artists. In his musical output Jan combines rock, jazz, blues, classical music and dance into a style of his own.
Jan was born in Amsterdam, in the shadow of the Waterloo square. At the age of 5, he picks a guitar for the first time. The instrument is his dad's, but Jan will never be witness of his father playing. During his adolescence years Jan broadens his interest in classical music to R&B and rock 'n roll, partly under the influence of the indorock scene in his home country.
Already at a young age, Jan performs in local bands, of which Johnny & His Cellar Rockers is the most famous and takes him across the border. That band becomes Johnny and The Hunters and ultimately The Hunters. Akkerman composes 'The Russian spy and I' that becomes a hit single in The Netherlands in 1966 and gradually develops into a Dutch classic. Thanks to his rapid guitar lick the song marks his breakthrough to a wider audience. Three years later Jan forms Brainbox with a.o. singer Kaz Lux, but within a year later, Jan joins Focus in late 1969 for a six year membership. With Focus, Jan has two worldwide hits ('Hocus Pocus' and 'Sylvia'), six multi platinum albums for Sire Records and various concert tours to the United States, Australia and Japan. The poll of trendsetting music magazine Melody Maker proclaims Jan Akkerman in September 1973 'Best guitarist of the world', above a.o. Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.
Since 1976 Jan Akkerman performs both solo as with his own 'Jan Akkerman Band', in which he has been joined ever since with a wide array of musicians, performing on international stages. Jan made appearances at renowned festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival, while touring around Europe and the United States, as well as Russia, Syria, Indonesia and Japan.
As a celebration of his significant contribution to Dutch pop and guitar music, Jan received the Golden Harp Award in early 2005, Holland's most prestigious music prize that Jan dedicated to his loyal audience. At the end of 2012 Jan was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a monumental, royal honour that acknowledged his contribution to Dutch music and his influence on musicians around the world.
Since 1968, Jan has produced a series of solo albums, on which he lets his creativity run free. There's no musical direction left unused: from the progressive rock on 'Profile' (1972), 'Tabernakel' (1973) and 'Eli' (1976), the fusion of 'Jan Akkerman' (1977), '3' (1979) and 'It Could Happen To You' (1982), the bluesrock of 'From The Basement' (1984), 'Heartware' (1987) and 'The Noise Of Art' (1990) and the classical tinged 'Aranjuez' (1978), 'Focus In Time' (1996) and 'Passion (1999) to the electronics of 'Oil In the Family' (1981) and 'C.U.' (2003). Every album reveals a different side of his musical personality, accompanied by musicians from all around the world. Jan also produced various live albums, while his solo works are collected in 2018 in his 26 cd career spanning box 'The Complete Jan Akkerman'.
Who would have thought that his work is completed with the release of his oeuvre box, might be defrauded. 'Close Beauty' is Jan's nineteenth studio album released under his own name, featuring twelve compositions written in recent years. 'Close Beauty' can be considered as the tip of the iceberg: over the last years, Jan prepared dozens of songs and has chosen the best to record these at Marten Haak's Neck Studio with his current band members Marijn van den Berg (drums), David de Marez Oyens (bass) and Coen Molenaar (keyboards). The latter was also responsible for the album's production.
From the panoramic sound of 'Beyond The Horizon', 'Tommy's Anniversary' and 'Meanwhile In St. Tropez', the melancholy of 'Passagaglia' and 'Reunion' to the fun of playing in 'Good Body Every Evening' and the sophisticated opening track 'Spiritual Privacy', 'Close Beauty' is hard to categorize, in the best Akkerman tradition.
About his new album, Jan says:
'I've always been able to tell that none of my albums sound the same. Exploring new things is something that I'd always wanted to do. Harmonica player Toots Thielemans once told me: 'your timing, that's your signature, your autogram'. I consider 'Close Beauty' exactly like that. If you stand very close to a cow, you can't tell it's a cow, after all.'
The album cover features the surrealistic painting 'Sunset Tango' by American Michael Cheval. 'This painting has all the qualities I was looking for', says Jan. 'It conveys the musical content of the album and it keeps the 'flow in the show' without words, so to speak.'
Even now in 2019 Jan is still considered the most influential guitar player ever to come out of the Netherlands. For generations, he has impressed and inspired large numbers of guitarists with his timing, harmonics, virtuosity and his ability to perform with a wide range of musicians from various musical backgrounds. He has always taken chances and forged his own path, evident across his new album 'Close Beauty' and recent concerts. Being fresh, energetic and unpredictable, Jan continues to perform at the highest level and to share his passion for the guitar with current band members and last, but not least - in fact foremost - with his worldwide audience.