A musician of nearly legendary prowess, Jan Akkerman for a time eclipsed Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck among reader polls in England as the top guitarist in the world. Akkerman was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and showed his musical inclinations early, taking up the guitar while still in grade school. His taste and interests were extraordinarily wide-ranging, from pop/rock to classical, with room for blues, Latin, and other influences.
The British label Pickwick/Hallmark, is characterized by making re-editions. This time I scored another point by purchasing this double LP’s live by Elton John many, many years ago, with two concerts recorded in the 70s decade (1970 – 1974). I say a success because the records are intact, just like their original versions and the best in a single double album! What more can I ask for?
For a man of such talent and influence, New Orleans piano legend James Booker is amazingly under-recorded. This disc and its partner (Spiders on the Keys) offer up some measure of what the folks of the Big Easy might have heard if they caught Booker on one of his "on" nights (he was a known drug user and inconsistent in his playing). He is at his best here (recorded at the Maple Leaf between 1972-1982), focused and intense in his playing, wildly passionate on both keyboards and vocals.
When most jazz singers do standards, they come from the "classic" American songbook, the one that includes show tunes and pop songs from a bygone era, one that was powered by names such as Gershwin, Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Sammy Kahn, Johnny Mercer, and so many others. That said, Cassandra Wilson is not just any jazz vocalist, and her Blue Note catalog – the label she's been with since 1993 – proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Wilson has explored her deep love of jazz and blues to be sure, covering everyone from Robert Johnson to Miles Davis…