Reviews of Minor Details

 


Track list:
1. Free wheeling
2. Big sir now
3. Dinner time
4. Love train
5. Blind baby
6. Minor details
7. Joy
8. Fernando's minibar
9. Kharmah Chantalah
10. Searching for Angela
11. As long as you're near
12. San Frisky
13. The arrogant frogs
14. Mena Muria

Freewheeling, is a majestic opener, sticks in your head once you heard it. A song of stubborn optimism, such as Stingray, the opener of Jan Akkerman 3.

Big Sir now is jazzy blues like Piétons with irresistible solo work from Jan.

Dinner time another jazzy Donald Fagen-like pop tune. But when you hear this guitar, immediately Jan's playing is recognized, his own sound - not that of David Becker - , so at ease taking time. Relaxing tune.

Love Train, is in a sort of Mark Knopler-style, with a nice theme. Sitting in a train watching these landscapes go by. Again no fuzz, only effective fine guitar playing.Blind baby, an Akkerman-patent working in a coalmine-like blues with some grit in it.

Minor Details stands out, we are at the heart of this album, and maybe at the heart of Jan's band.
This is what they really like to play, beginning with simple drums bass and then guitar and keyboards get in this tune. Gets you back to the Jazzah album, cool refreshing guitar playing, again the band takes time. Fuels body and soul, this one!

Joy is what the title says: pure joy, earlier played with The New Cool Collective Band of saxophonist Benjamin Herman (documentary Portret met gitaar), now played with Eric Vloeimans, a great artist in his own right. Beware you may think Miles Davis is reincarnated, Jan stated that he wants that Davis sound but he gets more! A fantastic effort by Eric!!

Drink your cocktail at Fernando's Minibar, listening to this George Benson-like tune, but again when you hear this solo it is this vintage Akkerman-sound yet again!

Kharmah Chantalah is another Akkerman classic with Indian like let it go-power. A tune so soothing that it can get your eyes wet. Cancel your therapist and listen to this one!
By the way it's not the only tune with healing power. Just listen to Puccini's Café-album that Jan made after surviving a terrible car-accident...

Searching for Angela is a deceptively simple tune, but there are many minor details in this one. Listen and find them!

As long as you are near is a shameless ballad, where guitar and Hammond blend together to express the love for your one and only love. Candlelight and wine while Jan's guitar work makes this Valentine-feeling complete.

San Frisky has that nice bluesy feel to this great guitar sound, with some Akkerman-only tricks and licks. Yes, he still got it!

Arrogant frogs, who are they? Presumably these critics with comments on Jan's style of play which doesn't fit in a category: is this tune pop, jazz, or classical? It's just a nice piece of music with again Vloeimans as a reincarnation of Miles Davis.

And as a conclusion Mena Muria. This slogan is derived from the original Melanesian Moluccan language which means One for all, all for one. As Molluccan people, Jan is still fighting for his freedom to make his own music, beyond any category. And this song is indeed beyond any category. It's a well crafted ballad about pain of the past but also a feast of future with all its possibilities. Already a classic JA-tune, for sure!

In this continuous fight at the top it's about details says Jan in the liner notes of Minor Details album.
Jan is pleased with the result and we as listeners are pleased with this great 76 minutes (!), double-LP length album!

Bas van den Berg

2011 is the year in which it was half a century ago that Jan Akkerman released his first single, the self-arranged Melody in F Rock by Arthur Rubenstein. In the following years, the guitarist built up a lengthy discography, a busy touring schedule and experienced artistic and commercial success with Brainbox and Focus. When he left Focus in 1976, Jan released a handful of interesting and adventurous solo-outings. Each record had its own sound and atmosphere. For instance C.U., released eight years ago, that Jan made with Ronald Molendijk and Jeroen Rietbergen. Inspired by jazz, blues, (progressive) rock and the not-to-neglect gipsy swing in the league of Django Reinhardt, Jan mixed his playing with electronic beats and an excellent backing from his band members. The cd was received, like many of his records, with mixed reactions and emotions.

On his new album Minor Details, Jan himself has full control. That resulted in fourteen songs, featuring his current band members Wilbrand Meischke on bass, Marijn van den Berg on drums and Coen Molenaar on keyboards. Just like in the early eighties and nineties, Jan goes back to the basic and that gets the best out of him. The whole story ‘behind the scenes’ is told on one side of the fold out cover. The recordings were done in his own studio, to which Wilbrand, Marijn and Coen added their parts and subsequently Jan did the final mixdown. In almost eighty minutes, Jan’s guitar playing, both acoustically and electrically, dominates the accessible compositions. Experiments like on C.U. belong to the past and that gives Minor Details a relaxed and organic character. Starting off with Free Wheeling, it’s a piece that – just like the title track – rings the ears for some time and the listener can whistle along with it. Searching for Angela and Love Train are more layered, especially the guitar parts. Just like on his previous solo records, Jan is still a excellent harmonizer and has the best timing as a guitar player you can imagine.

Keyboardist Molenaar, drummer Van den Berg and especially bass player Meischke have a feel for Akkerman’s playing and phrasing in an excellent way, but that’s no surprise after years of playing together. The musicians have their own solo from time to time, with mixed results. Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans is a special guest on two tracks. Joy was written by Jan some years ago for the New Cool Collective, but sounds more wayward on this album and contains a melodic part by Vloeimans (including a wild Miles-like blow out at the end!). Same goes for The Arrogant Frogs, that starts with a duet for trumpet and guitar and develops into a piece that completely stands on its own. This is no blues, jazz, rock or pop, but a composition that can only contain the musical autograph of Akkerman.

The record ends with the worthy Mena Muria (one for all, all for one in the Moluccan language), a track that reminds of Akkerman-standards, such as Prima Donna, Skydancer, Just Because, Puccini’s café and even House of the King. Rousing, pure and played with a lot of feeling.
Minor Details is a long and balanced cd with many faces and angles. A record that showcases Jan’s powerful playing as well as him still being able to write excellent songs.

Wouter Bessels

Nederlandse vertaling

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