Picks and Pans Review: Performance
It's a faraway state musically too, and this new group should not be confused with Kansas, Boston, Chicago or Alabama. A boogie band Oregon isn't. Its four members—Ralph Towner (guitars), Collin Walcott (percussion), Paul McCandless (wind instruments) and Glen Moore (bass)—are among the finest jazz fusioneers, mixing Indian, Middle Eastern, classical and jazz forms on their various instruments (mostly acoustic) with sophistication. These instrumentals are like tone meditations, some free-form, others more melodic. Some tracks are too rambling and place technique over feeling. But Along the Way is a beautiful duet by Towner on six-string classical guitar and Moore on bass. Buzzbox sounds like a mallard duck and a family of field mice singing with a scratchy violin and reed instruments, yet has an odd appeal. On Arion, McCandless' oboe has an intoxicating snake-charmer fluidity. One regrets there isn't more of Towner's 12-string guitar, which, like George Benson's electric Ibanez models and Earl Klugh's acoustic nylon-stringed classical, provides a distinct popular jazz touch. He features it on Icarus, the album's finest cut, which soars with all of Oregon's eclectic beauty—sitar, tabla, piano, oboe—coming together.