Bo van de Graaf: Ticket (2005)
Ticket, the latest from I Company leader Bo van de Graaf, is the second of two musical tributes to New York City to come out in 2004 (the other being El-P's Thirsty Ear Records release High Water). But unlike that electronic-tinged Matthew Shipp/El-P collaboration, Ticket (specifically, a "musical impression of the NYC subway ) is an abstract construction rich in concrete musique sound collages and centered around van de Graaf's lyrical and emotive tenor saxophone.
The Dutch-born van de Graaf opens Ticket with the piercing cry of his horn soaring high over Tessa Zoutendijk's melancholy violin. With a glorious flyby, the composer introduces his listening audience to a mad-paced mass of commuters coming and going through the subway station. Simin Tander lends her voice to this track and again on "Q Line, where she reads subway line announcements over a glitchy soundscape.
On the title track, and in fact throughout most of the record, van de Graaf's horn is what holds our focus. Through his interpretive playing, the composer gives us an audio interpretation of the city's multisonic subway system. With multiple found sounds and textured ambiances attacking our senses, van de Graaf's wraps us in a veil of schizophrenia, with voices sounding from inside and out.
"Rainbow Over 42nd Street follows, and is a bit too ambient, with its whispered vocals and the constant chug of train over tracks filling the bass end of the mix, but van de Graaf's solo, when it finally enters the fray, is lively and inspired.
And from the out-of-nowhere league comes a guest appearance of sorts from tenor titan Sonny Rollins on the appropriately titled "Mr. Rollins, could I get your autograph. Van de Graaf does his best to sound like Sonny while we listen to adoring fans asks the appreciative saxophone colossus for his John Hancock. Other credits acknowledge "various subway musicians and a Japanese Chamber Orchestra (which presumably appears on the string-heavy title track).
The only knock on Ticket is its brevity. 25 minutes just doesn't seem like much of an impressiona glimpse, yes, but hardly the depth of storytelling present on the previously mentioned El-P record. But maybe that was part of van de Graaf's idealike a short ride on a fast train, Ticket is a blur, a sensual overload leaving you in dizzying wonder.
Track Listing: 1. ticket 2. q line 3. rainbow over 42nd street 4. afrithing 5. mr. Rollins, could I get your autograph
Personnel: Bo van de Graaf (sax) Simin Tander (voice) Tessa Zoutendijk (violin)