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Oregon - Oregon CD (album) cover

OREGON

Oregon

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.33 | 12 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another thoughtful, classy title in discog full of them

Recorded in February 1983, this title was reissued in 2008 by ECM in a handsome but appropriately minimalist paper-sleeve edition. Oregon is a free spirited, mostly-acoustic "world-jazz" outfit who incorporate a wide range of eastern and western elements in their sound. Within an improvisational jazz framework the rhythm and mood can take any experimental avenue though the sound is never what I would describe as difficult or harsh. Though that does not mean this is lightweight or sleepy either. They are a thoughtful collective featuring acoustic guitars, piano, double-bass, synth, saxophone, oboe and percussion primarily, with occasional viola, English horn, sitar, clarinet, and wordless voice. Oregon has always been a frustrating band for me even as I realize how excellent they were. I realize this is highly sophisticated stuff and always try to give it 100% concentration when listening but invariably I drift. One of those bands whose enjoyment level may very well hinge on your ability to meditate. You have to really let go and let this wash over you. "The Rapids" is a lengthy dance of the soprano saxophone in a familiar (for Oregon) outdoor theme, very sunny in disposition. A bit of darker mystery creeps into "Beacon" courtesy of the oboe and viola. "Beside a Brook" finds Towner breathing beautifully at the piano for an extended period with English horn and oboe accompaniment. Oregon is never a noisy proposition like many bands are. This is almost the soundtrack to internal dialogue. Highly skilled musicians weaving bits and pieces off each other, with a completely uncluttered arrangement and flawless production. In the quiet spots (of which there are many) you can hear a pin drop, and almost zero hiss. There are moments in "Arianna" where the effect is positively mesmerizing ambient drifting, as if Eno had sat in with feistier musicians. In the closing "Impending Bloom" there are some call/answer vocalizations before the horns begin building in intensity to cap off the album. Oregon is tremendously hard for me to review as the music is so unique, so personal. They are not going to please everyone with their deliberate and patient sound but for those who do like this, you can look forward to album after album of similar musical dialogues. Oregon had a long and productive career and tried many variations on their central theme of studied improvisation. It is very well done and deserving the attention of anyone into acoustic jazz or improvisation, although it may be better to start with their early work. 7/10

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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