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OREGON

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Oregon biography
A world jazz precursor, Oregon was born in 1970. Originally composed of multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott on tabla, sitar and dulcimer, Glen Moore on bass, clarinet, viola and piano, Paul McCandless on woodwind instruments and the famous Ralph Towner on guitar, piano, synthesizer and trumpet.

The traditional jazz influence was reduced in favor of an eastern musical structure.
The music's aesthetic is quiet, introspective and meditative, but the improvisation's predominance is common to traditional jazz. The sitar/tabla couple contributes to the eastern mood while the lyrical use of oboe makes an occidental counterpoint.

Similar artists and bands are Collin walcott, Codona, John Abercrombie, Shakti, Larry Coryell, Paul Winter.

With the second release "Music of Another Present Era" in 1970 and its follow-ups "Distant Hills" and "Winter Light" on Vanguard label, Oregon became one of the leading improvisational bands of the time, offering an excellent synthesis of western and eastern music, along with classical music, jazz, folk, and avant-garde influences. The band released numerous albums on Vanguard label throughout the 1970s, and then made two records for ECM label in 1983. The group disbanded after Walcott's death in a car accident in 1984, who eventually been replaced by percussionist Trilok Gurtu for a band's reformation in 1987 ( last album on ECM), the band assuming a more conventional soft jazz orientation.

First two albums are highly recommended, along with the fourth "Distant Hills". The best is probably the second one Music of Another Present Era released in 1973, maybe the most progressive in nature.




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Oregon deserves a place in the Jazzrock category as a brilliant world jazz precursor, their music being an accomplished synthesis of many genre, the perfect weeding of western and eastern music.



Discography:
Our First Record, studio album (1970)
Music of Another Present Era, studio album (1973)
Winter Light, studio album (1974)
Distant Hills, studio album (1974)
In Concert, live (1975)
Together (w/Elvin Jones), studio album (1976)
Friends, studio album (1977)
Out of the Woods, studio album (1978)
Violin, studio album (1978)
Moon and Mind, studio album (1979)
Roots in the Sky, studio album (1979)
In Performance, live (1980)
The Essential Oregon, studio album (compilation) (1...
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Oregon official website

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Music Of Another Present EraMusic Of Another Present Era
Vanguard 1988
Audio CD$5.36
$5.99 (used)
Winter LightWinter Light
Vanguard
Vinyl$4.29 (used)
our first record LPour first record LP
VANGUARD FREESTYLE
Vinyl$14.49 (used)
45th Parallel45th Parallel
CBS Records 1989
Audio CD$41.35
$5.95 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Oregon - Vanguard Visionaries [CD New] USD $10.46 Buy It Now 1h 39m
ESSENTIALS-Steps Ahead-JON HASSELL-Oregon-EDDIE PALMIERI-Lounge Lizards-FARAFINA USD $8.49 Buy It Now 2h 12m
Trail Band - Voices From The Oregon Trail [CD New] USD $17.71 Buy It Now 2h 12m
Private Pop Lounge LP The Kicks Sealed oregon USD $24.99 Buy It Now 2h 38m
Jim Irwin: Oregon Bound CD, CD, case and liner notes in xcellent condition. USD $9.95 Buy It Now 3h
Ralph Towner Oregon Solo Guitar Live ECM WBros LP 1980 USD $12.00 Buy It Now 5h 20m
Oregon Ralph Towner Original Elektra 2LP Live 1980 USD $12.00 Buy It Now 5h 20m
THIRD STONE: Happiness Is Coming- Eruption-U.S. F.B.R. INC. MW- 216,Salem Oregon USD $184.98 Buy It Now 5h 51m
Oregon (CD New) USD $8.77 Buy It Now 6h 9m
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Hometown LP Vinyl PRIVATE Eugene Oregon Comp HT-001 FOLK PSYCH BREAKS USD $39.99 Buy It Now 6h 39m
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Milwaukie High School Spring 1963 Gilbert E. Tomothy, Director Portland, Oregon USD $21.95 Buy It Now 6h 40m
Family Tree - Oregon USD $22.95 Buy It Now 7h 7m
OREGON THE ESSENTIAL DOUBLE JAZZ LP ON VANGUARD VSD 109/10!! USD $24.99 [0 bids]
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OREGON Roots in the Sky LP 1979 Elektra Records Canada Vinyl Album Q6E-224 VG/VG USD $6.25 Buy It Now 9h 54m
Dave Deason-Oregon Impressions CD NEW USD $16.73 Buy It Now 10h 7m
Univ. Of Oregon 17th Annual High School Music Summer Session - Band Concert LP USD $15.00 Buy It Now 11h 39m
SEAN McKENNEY Tomorrow LP Recording associates SM-5173 Portland Oregon USD $4.99 Buy It Now 12h 26m
RALPH TOWNER Solo Concert LP 12 String and Classical Guitars (of OREGON) USD $3.99 Buy It Now 13h 46m
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Oregon Out Of The Woods 33rpm Vinyl LP Record Elektra 1978 VG++ USD $4.12 Buy It Now 1 day
Friends by Oregon (CD, Aug-1995, Vanguard) USD $7.12 Buy It Now 1 day
In Stride by Oregon (CD, Oct-2010, CAM Jazz) USD $14.72 Buy It Now 1 day
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The Joy Of Fiddlin'! Carol Ann Wheeler~Oregon State Fiddle Champion 1977-78 USD $11.95 Buy It Now 1 day
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Amber Tide - Magic 1989 Thaddeus Spae / Eugene Oregon Folk USD $33.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Mannheimer Park - Next Exit Cassette 1991 Chrome CrO2 Portland Oregon Rock USD $33.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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Oregon / Ralph Towner 11 Vinyl Record Lot Jazz 1972-1980 Vanguard Records VG-NM USD $43.99 [0 bids]
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Welcome Sweet Pleasure The Festival Musicians~Oregon Shakespeare~Renaissance USD $32.95 Buy It Now 1 day
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OREGON / ELVIN JONES together VSD 79377 Vinyl 1976 Record EX VG USD $13.50 [0 bids]
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"Kenton, Stan"-Eugene Armory Oregon 1953 Part Three CD NEW USD $13.86 Buy It Now 1 day
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Vanguard Double LP Spiritual Jazz THE ESSENTIAL OREGON Ralph Towner USD $19.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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THE JAZZ MINORS scarce autographed x7 pvt jazz lp USA TOUR 1977 Oregon NW vinyl USD $35.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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Oregon Roots In The Sky 12" LP 1979 Red Electra Labels Excellent Jazz / Electro USD $7.44 [0 bids]
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OREGON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OREGON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.04 | 30 ratings
Music of Another Present Era
1973
3.50 | 19 ratings
Winter Light
1974
3.51 | 23 ratings
Distant Hills
1974
4.29 | 5 ratings
Together (With Elvin Jones)
1976
3.05 | 11 ratings
Friends
1977
2.36 | 9 ratings
Violin
1977
4.03 | 23 ratings
Out of the Woods
1978
3.79 | 14 ratings
Moon and Mind
1979
4.00 | 15 ratings
Roots in the Sky
1979
3.04 | 5 ratings
Our First Record
1980
3.33 | 12 ratings
Oregon
1983
3.95 | 11 ratings
Crossing
1985
3.93 | 11 ratings
Ecotopia
1987
3.86 | 14 ratings
45th Parallel
1989
4.00 | 6 ratings
Always, Never, And Forever
1991
2.28 | 6 ratings
Troika
1995
3.80 | 5 ratings
Beyond Words
1995
3.00 | 4 ratings
Northwest Passage
1997
3.33 | 6 ratings
Oregon in Moscow (Oregon with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra)
2000
3.80 | 5 ratings
Prime
2005
4.00 | 7 ratings
1000 Kilometers
2007
3.08 | 5 ratings
In Stride
2010
3.40 | 5 ratings
Family Tree
2012

OREGON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.86 | 8 ratings
In Concert
1975
4.25 | 8 ratings
In Performance
1979
3.92 | 5 ratings
Live At Yoshi's
2002

OREGON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OREGON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Essential Oregon
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jade Muse
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Vanguard Visionaries
2007

OREGON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

OREGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Together (With Elvin Jones) by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.29 | 5 ratings

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Together (With Elvin Jones)
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Argonaught

5 stars I am wondering why this album is barely known to the PA community?

Style-wise, the Together is definitely not "rocky" at all (thankfully!). And it's jazzier than many, if not most other Oregon records I can think of. In this album, Oregon are fusing together the sonic language and the sensibilities of the post-bop jazz with with their favorite exotic "world folk" sounds and rhythms .. and finely tune the whole assembly to oscillate at the frequency of the classic electric fusion.

How they are doing this, I can't say, but the result is quite spectacular.

I highly recommend this to everyone who likes fusion "with a twist", or avant-gaardish, but not crazy contemporary jazz with additional structure and dimension to it.

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 Music of Another Present Era by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.04 | 30 ratings

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Music of Another Present Era
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On Oregon's debut album what you get is jazz fusion with a strong emphasis on the jazz side of the equation. In fact, I'd count Oregon as being one of the few fusion outfits who don't actually draw that much on rock - instead, the main non-jazz influences are folk music and raga, the latter seeping in through Collin Walcott's tabla and sitar. The title of "Music of Another Present Era" is apt, for the album at once has that rich vein of experimentalism characteristic of so much 1970s music and has a production that is strongly reminiscent of the era, and yet at the same time they seem to sit outside all the contemporary trends of 1972, sounding more like a continuation of 1960s post-bop in some places. Intriguing stuff, though it does meander a little.

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 In Stride by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.08 | 5 ratings

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In Stride
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Oregon is a live history of world jazz fusion, and their new album after four decades of activity only confirms they still are capable to play good music. Well known as solo guitarist Ralph Towner is obvious band's leader and main composer. On this album he plays acoustic guitars,guitar synth and piano.

Music during all album is mostly relaxed, a bit melancholic, with strong roots in acoustic jazz. Musicians plays together for years so they sound as real band, not just few collaborators. Plenty world timbers and elements make their music more melodic and easy listening. Never cheesy, this album for sure is between well made pleasant and professional releases, but far not innovative one.

Most controversial moment in album's music for me is Towner's places where he uses guitar synth. Its sound,reminding flute music,modified by sound synthesizer, destroys almost acoustic,natural,warm and well balanced album's atmosphere. I never liked that instrument, even on much more energetic Alan Holdsworth albums. There it sound even more out of place.

Happily, there are enough compositions without guitar synth sound. They are mostly pleasant,a bit too comfortable, contemporary jazz with some world fusion elements. Nice to listen, but energetic level could be more intensive for me. Not sleepy, but not far from lullaby in some moments.

Anyway, band still can play a good music, after all this years. Don't expect surprises there, but compositional and technical level of the band is high enough to record very competent album.

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 Oregon by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.33 | 12 ratings

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Oregon
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars OREGON has been a band that i've had a hard time getting into. I guess it's because it's all- acoustic. Anyway I though i'd take a chance on this one mainly because of a review by R.Hutchinson. He talks about how he wore out two cassettes of this recording back in the day.The band hadn't recorded a studio album for a few years and then signed with ECM. So this album is fresh, it's like the band has been rejuvinated.They would use synths as well for the first time and I like the way they're used in the background to create atmosphere.That alone might be why this one clicked with me immediately. Check out the album cover of the artist using the sky as his canvas. He's about to throw a disc of orange paint at it. Cool.

"Rapids" opens with sax and piano leading the way as it builds to a full sound then settles back. I like the percussion before 4 minutes as the sax solos. It settles again after 5 minutes then rebuilds after 6 1/2 minutes. "Beacon" opens with viola and aboe. Some percussion joins in as these sparse sounds continue. Cool tune. "Taos" opens with percussion that comes and goes. Bass 2 1/2 minutes in with synths as it builds.Tin flute too. Amazing sound here. Some classical guitar then it turns spacey late. "Beside A Brook" opens with piano and eventually we also get English horn and aboe helping out.

"Arianna" is interesting with the sounds that come and go together. Sitar, English horn and aboe on this one all create some great sounds.The tempo picks up 2 1/2 minutes in. "There Was No Moon That Night" opens with classical guitar followed by clarinet before a minute. It becomes intense briefly 2 1/2 minutes in. I like the clarinet 5 minutes in as the guitar and percussion help out. "Skyline" is a short piece with synths, bass and percussion. "Impending Bloom" is different. We get these vocal expressions that I like with a catchy rhythm. Piano after 1 1/2 minutes with english horn to follow. Musette (horn) takes over 5 minutes in.

A classy recording reminding me of Chamber Music. Intricate and beautifully done.

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 Out of the Woods by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.03 | 23 ratings

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Out of the Woods
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by lor68
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the edition issued on 1978, instead the re-mastered version dated 1995 of course is the best one, regarding of such an interesting chamber jazz, fusion-tinged...in fact the orchestrations- by means of the woodwind- are enhanced in a remarkable manner and in particular the job performed by Paul McCandless at the bass clarinet and the horn too! Moreover I've re-discovered such a good Collin Walcott's skill, after his departure from the Oregon ensemble in the course of 1984...after that event the ensemble won't be the same anymore...but coming back to the present issue, despite being not suspenseful (like in a few true progressive works nowadays and something more in the seventies, I mean), it's stunning. Otherwise- actually- the music of Oregon is intelligent fusion and nothing else, but you can find some fine music breaks-through inside and this feature alone could be enough to judge the album as well worth checking out, at least!! At the end nevermind if their music is an hybrid genre, in the middle between the chamber jazz and a kind of world music, cause in its particular style is unique!!

So my evaluation is "4 stars" inside a collection of experimental acoustic jazz..."3 stars" in a normal prog collection, especially if this "Out of the woods" is judged by a "prog purist".

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 Crossing by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.95 | 11 ratings

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Crossing
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kazuhiro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It is not begin to being able to do a certain kind of style ..thinking.. somehow. We do not think that I am snugly settled mutually unite it etc. as the group. Of course, it is thought that the style derives always secondarily though the performance does a tune to which we have listened and a favorite tune. There was no target "Such one", and our present music was made as a result at the time of beginning. I try only to make use of an individual talent when composing.

Therefore, we do not think that the same performance repeats twice. In the thing of entering the best ten or not entering, the sonority might have been good by chance. The audience might be good and the hall be good. Therefore, if I understand when that is better, we add the section during the tune fast.

It is our ways, and the cooperative relationship is the one saying enough because there are only four people.

Other members also were always talking about zeal to music to the band as well as the remark of this Ralph Towner. It struck close to home to the band and the listener as a result on the boundary of this album. Therefore, how the death of Collin Walcott influenced the band and the listener for the band might be understood.

Distinguished services of Collin Walcott that introduces not only Sitar but even also the charm of Tabla to the field of Jazz Rock might be large. Many of original performance in David Darling and Codona that is. And, it is not only musical instruments of simple ethno and it should make a special mention of the point well versed in other musical instruments. Other members to say nothing of this can also find a similar point. And, the creativity was one of the charms of Oregon.

The album that had been announced through the label called Vanguard and Elektra always offered the music of fine quality for them as one shape and existence. And, the work in ECM assumed to be the most suitable for the sound of the band might have been an indeed new challenge for them. The content of the album that Oregon left ECM as a result will receive the impression in which the color of ECM is indeed reflected well.

"Oregon" that had been announced in 1983 offered the music of an extremely hard quality. On the other hand, this "Crossing" receives the impression with a little soft quality. And, this album has become the posthumous work of Collin Walcott for Oregon as a result. This album might be at a special position for the fan and the listener because the impression of the fact is strong. It is assumed that this album bears the part of a temporary compilation of the band in the opinion of the fan and is often recognized.

Ralph Towner uses Prophet 5 in this album as well as the album in 1983. The sound can be never emphasized and plays the role of the support of the tune. A mysterious color sense might be given by suitable for acoustic musical instruments. It is said that it likes Ralph Towner at this time and these musical instruments were used well.

The same thing will be able to be said for Paul McCandless and Glen Moore. The processing of a momentary agility and the space that produces the sound is overwhelming. The work of the band that leaves it for ECM has good quality that indeed reflects the age and a hard impression.

"Queen Of Sydney" is a tune by Paul McCandless. The melody by Prophet 5 makes the sense of serenity and the anacatesthesia. Melody of Oboe that plays mysterious music scale. Flavor with good percussion instrument in close relation to repeated melody. A little avant-garde impression is given. The construction of the line of a piano melody and Bass that goes out in the latter half of the tune makes an overwhelming, transparent feeling. The anacatesthesia of fine quality is exactly constructed.

"Pepe Linque" is a tune by Glen Moore. A transparent feeling extremely drifts in the tune. And, the melody with the race based on the rhythm of Swing is developed. The percussion instrument gives an original part that is as an impression because it uses Tabla. The melody of soprano Sax is glossy. And, the band is performing a light tune.

It is a tune where the flavor of the band was expressed well overall as for "Alpenbridge". Melody of arpeggio with tension with acoustic guitar. Their originality is shown according to the sound of Oboe and Sitar that it twines there. The melody is fantastic as much as possible.

"Travel By Day" is a tune by Collin Walcott. Melody of complete unison by Sitar and Bass. Each member uses well and performs the space. Especially, the melody that Sitar plays makes good use of harmony with Chord and the tension of Rock. The composition with the tension might be splendid.

A piano melody with expression of feelings sounds beautifully in "Kronach Waltz". Rhythm that is reminiscent of waltz rhythm and a few tangos. The feature the melody by Oboe and the press roll of Snare Drum.

"The Glide" starts the band while emitting the sound of Prophet 5 forward in union. Very fresh Jazz Rock is constructed. Each member is having them demonstrate characteristics of the sounds of acoustic musical instruments enough. The tune is very Jazz of fine quality. The composition in which each member's Solo is turned is splendid. The sound of Prophet 5 that supports the tune doesn't obstruct the tune. Part of Solo of piano and Oboe. And, the line of Bass that completely supports the tune. The tune is very high-quality.

"Amaryllis" is a tune with a transparent feeling very much. The melody of 12 bowstring guitar that Ralph Towner plays might be a performance for him. Obbligati of keyboard that gives composition in which tempo is not felt and grand impression. The tune will shift to Jazz Rock of fine quality and the element of ethnical before long. Various elements might mix and an advanced composition be a performance that they exactly do. A good flavor of the band is expressed well.

A wind instrument and a piano melody crosswire to "Looking-Glass Man". Twining of the line of the composition and Bass to make good use of the unison is complete. Especially, it is a composition in which twining of the melody concerning musical instruments is valued. The flow of this tune that excludes the rhythm is one of the charms of them.

"Crossing" gives a very a sound that each member plays pastoral impression. Beautiful piano melody. Part of guitar and wind instrument to get on the flow. And, twining of the drum that decides the impression of the tune increases degree of freedom. It might be ..composition of beauty very extremely and the quality.. finished.

It might be an album with the role of the compilation of the music character that the band cultivated exactly. And, the music of the quality after it is dedicated to Collin Walcott and the fan is here.

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 Roots in the Sky by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Roots in the Sky
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars What a talented and unique sounding band OREGON are. As i said when reviewing their "Out Of The Woods" album, if i gave my rating based on objectivity this is a 4 possibly a 5 star record. Again i have a hard time getting past the fact that it's an all acoustic album. My loss i know. Once again acoustic guitars,aboe,piano and percussion lead the way. I must say i do prefer this one over "Out Of The Woods" but not by much. If you can get the re-issue with both of these paired together i wouldn't hesitate.

I read where someone refered to this music as "acoustic jazz chamber music". Or something like that. "June Bug" kicks in quickly to an uptempo pace with percussion,aboe and acoustic guitar. Just a great sound with so much going on. "Vessel" is the longest track on here. Percussion of some sort to open as piano comes in gently. Some dissonant horns join in around 3 minutes. Bass clarinet too then the piano takes over. Percussion becomes the focus again in this laid back tune. "Sierra Leone" is very quiet with some sparse aboe until we get this World music sound around a minute. It's building.

"Ogden Road" opens with piano as a horn comes in and other sounds. Percussion around 1 1/2 minutes. The tempo continues to change. Acoustic guitar before 3 minutes. Horns 3 1/2 minutes. Aboe before 6 minutes with piano. Excellent track. "House Of Wax" opens with piano as sitar joins in. It seems out of place to me. "Hungry Heart" opens with percussion as aboe,bass,acoustic guitar and other sounds join in. "Orrington's Escape" is led by aboe but i don't like it. Thankfully it's very short. "Roots In The Sky" builds with horns,percussion and other sounds. It settles right down then builds a lot more slowly this time. "Longing,So Long" sounds like sounds from the jungle to open. Percussion and aboe follow with acoustic guitar. Some bass and piano too as the tempo continues to change.

So an impressive release that i need to be in the right mood for. I found this more jazzy than "Out Of The Woods" and that's probably why i liked it more. 3.5 stars.

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 Out of the Woods by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.03 | 23 ratings

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Out of the Woods
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I've been listening to this for about a week and I never considered that this was a Jazz album, shows how much I know. This is a very acoustic album with a World music vibe. Lots of aboe with sitar, tablas and percussion giving it that World Music flavour. Plenty of acoustic guitar and piano as well. This is very elegant and pleasant, i'm just not big on acoustic music. My friend b olariu has given this 5 stars and I would feel the same way if I was rating and reviewing this objectively, but I don't review that way. I have to like it. This just isn't my kind of music no matter how good it is.

"Yellow Bell" is led by the aboe as bass, percussion and piano support. Piano takes the lead for a minute then the aboe returns. "Fall 77" is led by horns and is a mixture of Jazz and World music. "Reprise" features piano melodies only. "Cane Fields" is a percussion and aboe dominated track. "Dance To The Morning Star" has this odd sounding intro and outro. Acoustic guitar, bass, piano and other sounds come in between, then the aboe leads.

"Vision Of A Dancer" features aboe and sitar early then piano takes over. "Story Telling" is a short precussion tune. "Waterwheel" features more percussion and aboe leading the way. "Witchi- Tai-To" is sitar led early. It settles after 3 minutes with acoustic guitar, bass, percussion and other sounds. Aboe comes in.

For most OREGON fans this is their favourite. It's a beautiful recording no doubt about it. 3.5 stars.

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 Live At Yoshi's by OREGON album cover Live, 2002
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Live At Yoshi's
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars How a group this good has managed to survive so long beneath the radar is anyone's guess. Or maybe that's their strategy: playing music that appeals more to discriminating listeners who couldn't care less about popular fashion, except as something to avoid.

I would like to count myself among them, but until very recently I had never even heard the name of this renowned quartet. My thanks to BILL BRUFORD for the introduction: in his (recommended) biography the ex-YES / KING CRIMSON percussion ace mentions Oregon in connection with his 1997 collaboration with guitarist Ralph Towner ("If Summer Had It's Ghosts"). A chance search at my local public library immediately unearthed this gem, by coincidence made at the same Oakland, California venue where Bruford's band EARTHWORKS recorded their (likewise recommended) 2004 live CD "Random Acts of Happiness".

Veteran fans will know what to expect: an album of refined but exciting instrumental Jazz with subtle nods to global culture, in a style sometimes tagged 'World Fusion'. You can see it even in the track titles, many of them recalling a dusty African savannah: "Distant Hills", "Green and Golden", "The Prowler", and so forth.

The music itself is likewise sunny and expansive, with an eclectic mix of instruments suggesting more a Classical-Jazz hybrid rather than traditional Jazz-Rock Fusion: oboes and clarinet, English horn, and the occasional bowed acoustic bass. Add some exotic percussion, plus Towner's exquisite guitar technique, and the result is a very tasty package indeed, ranging in mood from the jaunty groovefest of "Crocodile Romancing" to more conventional Jazz ballads ("I'll Remember August") to a completely freeform improvisation not far removed from mid-'70s KING CRIMSON at their atonal best.

The album begins strong and only gets better. There's even a drum solo in the opening number of the set, something few bands would have the nerve to attempt, and fewer still with this degree of success. The four musicians on stage at Yoshi's sound like they've been playing together forever, which is practically true: Oregon is a group that has been around, in one form or another, longer than a lot of you reading this have even been alive.

Do yourself a favor and don't let them escape your attention, as I almost did.

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 Oregon by OREGON album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.33 | 12 ratings

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Oregon
Oregon Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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

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