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Oregon - Winter Light CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.67 | 30 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars "Oregon at their most melodic, this 1974 LP is rated by many fans as their best of their long career. Essential." The citation is from the CD reissue. To some degree I was already familiar with the output of this band from guess- where, but my initial thought when listening to this third album was, "At their most melodic?? How dry and boring they might be at their less melodic then?", but my reception definitely evolved for the better. On ProgArchives some Oregon albums are nevertheless more appreciated, e.g. Out of the Woods (1978).

"Uncompromising avant-jazz group who defy categorization", says All Music Guide about Oregon. A good way to start describing this instrumental music is to speak of the instrumentation. The most prolific composer -- at least on this album -- is the guitarist Ralph Towner, who's in our database also as a solo artist. In addition to classical guitar and 12 string guitar, he plays piano, French horn, clay drums and hand claps. Paul McCandless plays oboe, English horn and bass clarinet; Glen Moore is the bassist who adds some piano, violin and flute, and Collin Walcott plays all kinds of percussion (apart from a drum kit) plus dulcimer and clarinet. No electric keyboards or electric guitar in sight. In short: acoustic and rather meditative chamber jazz with folk and World Music flavour.

Towner's lengthy composition 'Tide Pool' is centering around tablas and acoustic guitar, and frankly for the most part I find it a dull, over-extended jam session, up to the double bass solo. 'Witchi-Tai-To' is a classic composition by Jim Pepper, also recorded by Jan Garbarek the very same year. The bright piano melodies make it a refreshing, happy little piece. 'Ghost Beads' by Towner is perhaps also slightly too long in showcasing the acoustic virtuosity.

In the slow and meditative 'Deer Path' tablas and other percussion are silent for once, so there's a nice, spacey atmosphere in this sketch-like brief track. Paul McCandless has composed 'Fond Libré', a delicate and introspective piece focusing on his wind instruments. At this point I was still waiting for the more melodic music on my first listening, and the 2-minute rhythm-centred 'Street Dance' with an avant edge didn't help that at all.

'Rain Maker' (by Towner) is instantly likeable and indeed relatively melodic. Reeds, piano and acoustic guitar flow beautifully, and the percussion stays temperate. 'Poesía' credited to the whole band is spacey and meditative. Walcott's 'Margueritte' returns to the duller, jam-like approach, with lots of hand percussion.

Acquainted fans of Oregon will undoubtedly find this a pleasant album while a more casual listener, I presume, has to overcome some boredom before getting the introspective beauty. Helps a lot if you enjoy tablas and other World flavoured percussion, and reeds such as oboe.

Matti | 3/5 |


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