Oregon

By • Feb 28th, 2007 • Category: Jazz, Music

Way back in the ’70s a friend played me “Distant Hills” (Oregon’s second album) and that as they say was that. I had heard some of Ralph Towner’s ECM 6 & 12 string guitar recordings and been very impressed with the amazing sounds he pulled and his impecceble technique. But this was just so different, double-reedist Paul McCandless added oboe and English horn, Glen Moore played acoustic bass while Colin Walcott took an even more exotic route on tabla and sitar. (Walcott died in 1984).

To find out what the fuss is about, head to their website ( www.oregonband.com/oimaudio.html ) and pick a piece at random or try “Beneath An Evening Sky” or “Anthem” as a place to start. Sadly these are all Real Audio and only one and two minute segments from their recent recording they did with the Moscow Orchestra.

I got to see this band play live at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne somtime in the late seventies(?) and around thirty years later the memory of it still brings a smile. What prompted reminiscence is finding a WAV I made of their “In Concert” LP (yep the big black round plastic thingies), converting it to an MP3 and bunging it on the MP3 player. This band is joyous, an idea will get tossed back and forth between the players, taken for a long long trip and then without you catching them at it, they somehow get back to the place they started. Pure magic.

Here is a video of them from 1987 playing “Waterwheel” at a German Festival.

Here is the official bio at The Official Oregon Website

For over three decades OREGON has inspired audiences in renowned concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, and Vienna’s Mozartsaal; at international jazz clubs and major festivals such as Montreux, Pori, Berlin, Montreal, and Newport Jazz; and on tours throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, Eastern and Western Europe, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Algeria, and Australia.

OREGON began in 1960 at the University of Oregon with undergraduate students Ralph Towner and Glen Moore who formed a musical friendship on bass and piano inspired by Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro and later by Brazilian music. Moore earned a degree in history and literature and Towner completed his in composition, taking up guitar in the process. In the mid 60’s, they both traveled to Europe. Towner studied classical guitar in Vienna with Karl Scheit; Moore studied classical bass in Copenhagen and sat in with such greats as Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon. By 1969, both were living in New York City, playing with a community of young musicians who formed the great fusion bands of the 70’s including Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

If you ever get the chance to see these guys play, DO NOT miss them. Quite frankly, my favourite jazz band of all time and not an electric guitar in sight… how weird is that?

is fascinated by guitars, music, guitars, production, silly noises, guitars and used to be a musician. Did I mention the thing about the guitars?
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