Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oregon - self titled (ECM 1983, 2008)

Oregon was a chamber jazz group consisting of Paul McCandless on reeds and flute, Glen Moore on bass, violin and piano, Ralph Towner on guitar, piano and synthesizer and Collin Walcott on sitar, percussion and voice. They recorded for Vanguard and Elektra in the 1970's before finding an apt home on the ECM label, whose clean production vales suited the band very well. "The Rapids" opens the album with some delicate piano, bells and soprano saxophone, the music has a calm, vaguely classical feel. "Beacon" has a light and swirling sound, including an odd sounding synth interlude. "Taos" is the key track of the album for me, with a soft percussion opening and some beautiful Native American sounding flute and hand percussion sounding exotic and mysterious. Other enjoyable tracks on the album were "Arianna" which feature Walcott's sitar playing off against McCandless' saxophone to good effect, and the final track, "Impending Bloom" which has hand percussion and scat vocals as well as piano and swirling sax framed by synthesizers for a unique and evolving sound. This was an interesting album that grew on me once I started to listen to is as a series of soundscapes rather than a "jazz" album. This would be a good album for late night reading or navel-gazing.

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