CD Review – Jan Akkerman – Close Beauty

By my dodgy CSE Grade 1 Maths I make this to be Akkerman’s twenty-second studio album, although his first since Minor Details in 2011. In many ways it is a typically eclectic album of his, steeped in jazz fusion and completely instrumental. But there are hints of music from his past, and takes in Latin rhythms too.

The opener, Spiritual Privacy (Sunset Tango), has a samba rhythm and finds Jan flexing his dextrous fingers on acoustic guitar, and shows his speedy virtuosity. A very atmospheric piece. Elsewhere, Reunion and the title track, Close Beauty, continue the Latin rhythms whilst remaining melodic. Unusually for Akkerman, there are hints of his former band too, Focus. Tommy’s Anniversary is an obvious reference whilst the multi-part Retrospection (Emotional Debris – The Power Behind the Throne-Hear the Trees Whistle for the Dog-Euridice) hints heavily in that direction. Indeed, parts of the song would sit very happily on a Focus album. Emotional Debris references Bartok, and Euridice is a nod to the Focus Moving Waves track Eruption. There is a blues tinge to Don Giovanni, as on Fromage. Other tracks are more typical of Jan’s jazz-fusion leanings. The closing track, Good Body Every Evening, is a little funkier, building steadily through jazz musings to a groovy conclusion.

Jan is definitely the focus of attention on this album, although the band are more than accomplished. All three band members played on the last album. Coen Molenaar brings a nice touch on keyboards and also produced the album, David De Marez Oyens on bass, and Marijn van den Berg on drums are kept busy and interesting. Akkerman is very melodic on this release, letting his guitar be quite lyrical at times. He is more than an accomplished musician, he is an excellent virtuoso and incredibly technically able. This is a very enjoyable listen that maintains Akkerman’s eclectic jazz approach.

1. Spiritual Privacy (Sunset Tango) (7:02)
2. Beyond the Horizon (7:06)
3. Reunion (4:39)
4. Close Beauty (3:00)
5. Retrospection (Emotional Debris – The Power Behind the Throne-Hear the Trees Whistle for the Dog-Euridice) (6:13)
6. Passagaglia (2:56)
7. Tommy’s Anniversary (8:17)
8. Don Giovanni (4:06)
9. Meanwhile in St. Tropez (4:51)
10. French Pride (3:00)
11. Fromage (5:20)
12. Good Body Every Evening (8:16)

Jan Akkerman / guitars
Coen Molenaar / keyboards, producer
David De Marez Oyens / bass
Marijn van den Berg / drums

Label: Mascot Label Group/Music Theories Recordings
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
Release date: October 25, 2019

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