Bo van de Graaf


When I saw the cover of Bo van de Graaf's Ticket CD - with its colourful map, carrying the subtitle A Musical Impression Of The N.Y.C. Subway - I was immediately reminded of an old album by Tom Hamilton, Off-Hour Wait State (1996) - subtitle: Some Music About The Subway. After listening to Ticket I have to say that the concept and realization of the van de Graaf CD are quite less complex and ambitious than those of its American counterpart. Which by itself doesn't mean much, of course. Dutch tenor player Bo van de Graaf has assembled five pieces (total playing time: 24'44") for a mini CD that sounds fine and is never boring, though I suspect opinions will vary quite dramatically according to the amount of undivided attention paid by the individual listener.

At first Van de Graaf's tenor reminded me of Gary Windo - the attack, the "squeezed" tone - but as the CD went on to the other tracks I was reminded of Gato Barbieri's "full-throated" style (but here I have to admit I haven't listened to Gato Barbieri in ages...); better yet - check the solo over the afro-calypso in Rainbow Over 42nd Street, the propensity to quote from mainstream material, the use of motivic variations in Mr. Rollins, Could I Get Your Autograph? (and what's that, a quote off Epistrophy?) - I was definitely reminded of Sonny Rollins, who makes a (spoken) appearance on the last track.

The saxophone language being distinctively "jazz", I looked in vain at the liner notes in order to discover the origins of the digital/electronic-sounding "orchestral" backdrops that sometimes are the main ingredient of the action - sometimes they reminded me of Michael Mantler's austere writing. Spoken parts (by Simin Tander) (not too surprising, dealing with travel announcements), a tiny bit of violin (by Tessa Zoutendijk), some subway recordings, some street musicians, round up the picture.

The work has a pleasant, made-for-video quality that should definitely appeal to those who like their music to be "intense, with measure". But when it comes to those who (still?) listen to music while sitting, I suspect the CD could loose its appeal quite fast.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005 | March 15, 2005