Oregon

Oregon

Oregon

Family Tree

CamJazz

Since their founding in 1971 after working with Paul Winter’s Consort, Oregon (Ralph Towner on guitar and piano, Paul McCandless on horns, Glen Moore on bass, and the late Colin Walcott on percussion and sitar) have remained uniquely undefinable to this day. Their blend of jazz, world music, and quasi-folk sounds like no other.

In the early days, it was Towner’s classical guitar paired with Walcott’s tabla and sitar that drove the music, but Walcott’s tragic demise in a car wreck while on tour in 1984 ended the group for a while, only to resurface with Trilok Gurtu for a time. Today the drum seat is occupied by Mark Walker, and while longtime fans miss the interplay between the jazzy nylon string guitar work of Towner and the Indian influences of albums such as 1973’s Distant Hills or the magnificent Out of the Woods from 1978, the group continues to amaze decades later.

Family Tree, their 28th release, finds Oregon still restlessly imaginative, with McCandless’s oboe answering Towner’s melodic guitar and piano on the record’s 12 cuts. Glen Moore’s bowed bass lines center the track “Moot” before Walker’s drums set up the rest of the cut, and Towner chimes in with a nod to Brazilian bossa nova guitar a la Joao Gilberto or Jorge Ben. Terrific stuff, and it defines the Oregon sound — a little bit world music, filtered through the acoustic jazz that is the group’s hallmark. “Jurassic” blends aching horn work over an ominous synthesizer base, but never strays too far from their strengths.

For over 30 years Oregon has, in the words of Ralph Towner, “thought of themselves as a small orchestra.” Small in number, perhaps, but as Family Tree amply illustrates, huge in invention and ideas. One hopes they will continue another 30 years!

Oregon Band: www.oregonband.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bobby Rush
    Bobby Rush

    Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush ( Omnivore Recordings). Review by James Mann.

  • Geezër
    Geezër

    Geezër brought their old-school show all the way from their Miami rest home, and Julius C. Lacking thinks they were quite spry.

  • Bully
    Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Conway
    Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater
    Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

  • Javier Escovedo
    Javier Escovedo

    Kicked Out Of Eden (Saustex Media). Review by James Mann.

  • Eszter Balint
    Eszter Balint

    Airless Midnight (Red Herring). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives