Reviews for OREGON IN MOSCOW
“ For over three decades, the group Oregon has been creating some of the most prolific instrumental music in the world. Founders Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Paul McCandless and the late Collin Walcott pioneered a remarkably fresh sound. Blending classical, jazz and world music influences with inspired original compositions they created intricate and alluring melodic soundscapes that are organically beautiful, dramatic and timeless. OREGON IN MOSCOW teams the profound group, along with newly added percussionist Mark Walker, with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony (conducted by George Garanian) to produce two-discs of pure ‘Oregon-ic’ magic. The orchestral repertoire is comprised of choice Oregon favorites as well as specially orchestrated selections from each group member. Most all of the selections highlight each player in varying moods, textures and settings. Included are ‘Round Robin,’ ‘Beneath An Evening Sky,’ ‘Icarus’ and ‘Zephyr.’ Towner, Moore and McCandless sound inspired while brilliantly showcasing their vintage and imaginative voices throughout all selections. Newcomer Mark Walker demonstrates his vast array of percussive skills that fit the group like a glove. Brilliantly produced by Steve Rodby, Oregon In Moscow is a most hearty package celebrating the veteran group’s limitless talents and musical prowess. ‘Oregon’ is truly a national treasure!”
“A suitably ambitious memento of the group’s 30-year association, OREGON IN MOSCOW is not a concert recording but a far-reaching exploration of the ensemble’s substantial orchestral influences. Recorded over six days…the two-disc project highlights the venerable group’s attentiveness toward tone, dynamics, and phrasing as much as its facility for transcending genres and rhythms… OREGON IN MOSCOW seems to invigorate every artist involved…It serves as a fitting, challenging reminder that beyond jazz, world rhythms, and categories not yet defined, classical stimuli are another fundamental element in OREGON’s free-range musical amalgam.”
—Terry Wood, Amazon.com
“An Oregon recording with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow isn’t quite as far-out an idea as it may seem. Although Oregon a groundbreaking group in terms of linking jazz with world music and occasional New Age notions has been performing with large symphonic ensembles for years, the material has never been documented. This two-CD set makes up for the absence with pieces by guitarist Ralph Towner, woodwind player Paul McCandless and bassist Glen Moore. Recorded in Moscow in 1999 (with Mark Walker on drums and percussion), the collection, not surprisingly, comes across as an expanded perspective on the appealing, melodically intriguing music Oregon has always performed.”
—Don Heckman, Los Angles Times, Sunday, December 17, 2000
“Oregon wedded free jazz, chamber music, Indian drones, and an ache for transcendence 30 years before DJs spliced tabla beats into soul-sax riffs. Now, “Round Robin” and “Icarus” sound like music from the first morning of the world.”
—Steve Silberman, Wired Magazine
“Over the past 30 years the quartet Oregon has set the standard for acoustic chamber music that straddles the lines between jazz, New Age and classical. The members have all collaborated with orchestras on several occasions, dating back to the group’s original incubator, the Paul Winter Consort. Their compositions and personal approaches to improvisation tend to mesh nicely with the regimentation of large groups. This 2-disc set is perhaps the best documentation yet of how flexible the Oregon aesthetic can be. Most of the tracks are beautiful, well-crafted pieces that echo the best of 20th century classical music. Hints of Debussy’s pastoral sensibilities, Mussorgsky’s bombast and Stravinsky’s mischief abound…
The Tchaikovsky Symphony is certainly up to the task of navigating this most unusual material as if born to the saddle. Conductor George Garanian handles this full platter with aplomb, imbuing the tunes with appropriate volume and tastefulness…This set is a must-have for Oregon devotees and is sure to appeal to fans of modern classical or acoustic instrumental music as well.”
—Todd S. Jenkins, All About Jazz.com
“Given most marriages don’t last 35 years, the fact that three of perennially genre-busting group Oregon’s four founding members have remained together so long–and there’s little doubt that if Colin Walcott had not tragically died in a car accident in ’84, he’d still be around too–is truly remarkable. Sure, there are a few old warhorse rock and roll bands like the Rolling Stones who’ve been around longer. But given the mercurial and significantly less-recompensable nature of jazz, guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless, and bassist Glen Moore’s ability to continue to evolve and find new things to say makes them a definite anomaly in the jazz landscape.
Their latest release also features more recent recruit Mark Walker, who, having been with the group since ‘97’s Northwest Passage, is Oregon’s longest-standing percussionist since Walcott’s untimely passing. Prime demonstrates just how they’ve taken influences from a variety of spaces over the years–jazz, folk, classical, ethnic music of India and Brazil, and more–and integrated them in ways that eliminate delineation, developing a unique language imitated but never copied. Their strongest album in years, Prime also reconnects the group with recording engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug and Rainbow Studio in Oslo, Norway. This is the first time they’ve recorded there since their short tenure with the ECM label in the mid-‘80s, and the result is an album whose sonic excellence matches its exceptional writing and performances. As always, Towner provides the lion’s share of the writing. It’s as much about his unique way of voicing as specific melodic and rhythmic concerns, and it remains instantly recognizable but never predictable. In its pastoral folksiness, “If” bears some resemblance to earlier pieces like “Green and Golden,” but its odd meter and deceptively difficult changes provide characteristic yet fresh grist for Towner and McCandless’ advanced improvisational acumen, which remains uncannily lyrical in the face of harmonic adversity.
And while some have accused Oregon of becoming softer and less edgy over the years, Towner’s three-part “Monterey Suite,” some of his best writing in recent years, lays waste to that suggestion. While lacking the sharp angularity of some of his earlier work, the complex nature of the first part, “Dark,” still comes from a shadowy place similar to “Distant Hills,” even as Walker’s kit work gives it less idiosyncratic but more dynamically-building forward motion. The second movement, “Tammurriata,” vividly proves that Towner’s creative sense of counterpoint is still intact.As always, a number of brief free pieces act almost as way stations along the disc’s greater narrative arc, and it has the same inherent sense of purpose that has always differentiated Oregon’s spontaneous improvisations, which are more about texture and ambience than mere notes and pulses. Moore contributes two pieces, most notably a reprise of “Pepe Linque” from ‘85’s Crossing which, with Walker’s shuffle beat and Towner’s blues/gospel piano, is the closest Oregon has ever come to boogie. Proof that, with Prime, despite the kind of familiarity that can only come from so many years together, Oregon still has more than a few tricks up its sleeve.”
—John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com