Oregon (band)

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Oregon
Origin University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Genres Chamber jazz, ethno jazz, folk jazz, world fusion, jazz fusion, New Age, Third Stream
Years active 1970–1984, 1987–present
Labels Vanguard Records, Elektra Records, ECM Records, Portrait Records, Intuition Music & Media, VeraBra Records, Chesky Records, CAM Jazz
Associated acts Paul Winter Consort, Elvin Jones, Zbigniew Seifert, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio
Website www.oregonband.com
Members Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, Mark Walker
Past members Colin Walcott, Trilok Gurtu
Notable instruments
guitar, piano, synthesizer, trumpet, woodwind instruments, double bass, violin, percussion, sitar, tabla

Oregon is an American jazz and world music group, originally formed in 1971 by Ralph Towner (guitar, piano, synthesizer, trumpet), Paul McCandless (woodwind instruments), Glen Moore (double bass, violin, piano), and Collin Walcott (percussion, sitar, tabla).

History[edit]

Towner and Moore had been friends and occasional collaborators since meeting in 1960 as students at the University of Oregon. By 1969, both were working musicians living in New York; while collaborating with folksinger Tim Hardin they were introduced to world music pioneer Paul Winter's "Consort" ensemble, particularly member Collin Walcott, with whom Towner began improvising as an informal duo. By 1970 Towner and Moore had joined the Winter Consort and met fellow member McCandless; the four began exploring improvisation on their own, while their contributions continued to be seminal in redefining the Winter Consort "sound" in compositions like Towner's "Icarus".

The four musicians made their first group recording in 1970, but the label, Increase Records, went out of business before it could be released (it eventually was issued by Vanguard in 1980 as Our First Record). Oregon made its "formal" debut in NYC in 1971 (originally named "Thyme — Music of Another Present Era", the name change to Oregon was suggested by McCandless).

The group's first release Music of Another Present Era was issued on Vanguard in 1972 (the four also recorded for ECM, though the recording, 1973's Trios Solos, was billed as "Ralph Towner with Glen Moore"). With those initial recordings and the follow-ups Distant Hills (1973) and Winter Light (1974) (all on Vanguard), Oregon established itself as one of the leading improvisational groups of its day, blending Indian and Western classical music [1] with jazz, folk, space music [2] and avant-garde elements. The group released numerous albums on Vanguard throughout the 1970s, also making three records for Elektra/Asylum between 1978 and 1980 (including the highly acclaimed Out of the Woods and a live recording taken from performances at Carnegie Hall and in Canada in late 1979).

After a couple years' hiatus devoted to individual projects (including the birth of Walcott's daughter in 1980), the group reassembled, recording for ECM, releasing the eponymous Oregon in 1983 and Crossings in 1984. Before the latter's release, however, during a 1984 tour Walcott was killed in an automobile accident in the former East Germany. Oregon temporarily disbanded, but regrouped in May 1985 at a memorial concert for Walcott in NYC, with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu sitting in (Walcott's own choice for his replacement should it become necessary). In 1986 Gurtu was invited to join Oregon; the band resumed touring and released three albums during his five years as a member.

After Trilok Gurtu's departure, the group continued as a trio, issuing two albums during that period. The 1997 album Northwest Passage marked a return to the inclusion of percussion, featuring either drummer Mark Walker or Turkish Armenian percussionist Arto Tunçboyacıyan on most tracks; subsequently, Walker was taken on as a full member. In 1999 the ensemble traveled to Moscow, Russia to record with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, premiering orchestral compositions that had been in development for years, some dating back to their first days with the Winter Consort; that project's 2000 release Oregon in Moscow garnered four Grammy nominations. 2002 saw the release of Live at Yoshi's, recorded in San Francisco, the first live Oregon recording in two decades.

Still active, the group enjoys an avid and eclectic following.

Discography[edit]

on Vanguard

  • Our First Record (recorded 1970, first released 1980)
  • Music of Another Present Era (1972)
  • Distant Hills (1973)
  • Winter Light (1974)
  • In Concert (1975)
  • Together (1976), with drummer Elvin Jones
  • Friends (1977)
  • Violin (1978), with violinist Zbigniew Seifert
  • Moon and Mind (1979)

on Elektra

on ECM

on Intuition

  • 45th Parallel (1989)
  • Always, Never and Forever (1991)
  • Troika (1993)
  • Beyond Words (1995)
  • Northwest Passage (1997)
  • Music for a Midsummer Night's Dream (The Oregon Trio) (1998)
  • In Moscow (2000), with the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
  • Live at Yoshi's (2002)

on CamJazz

  • Prime (2005)
  • The Glide (1 track, new version on iTunes 2005)
  • 1000 Kilometers (2007)
  • In Stride (2010)
  • Family Tree (2012)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "We've always had a real approach to music that's very influenced by classical articulation and dynamics...We've always thought of ourselves as a small orchestra." -- Ralph Towner on National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, 03/18/01
  2. ^ "As in previous Spacejazz excursions, we favor the more melodic or space creating players over the instrumental technicians. We'll be hearing from the group OREGON with music from 45th PARALLEL;" -- Music from the Hearts of Space, Program 260 : "Spacejazz 6 Animato"

External links[edit]