Oregon: Crossing (ECM 1291)

Oregon
Crossing

Paul McCandless oboe, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, English horn
Glen Moore bass, flute, piano
Ralph Towner Prophet 5 synthesizer, piano, cornet, classical guitar, 12-string guitar, percussion
Collin Walcott tabla, percussion, sitar, snare drum, bass drum
Recorded October 1984 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Anyone who’s ever wondered what all the Oregon buzz was about need only listen to the first 30 seconds of “Queen Of Sydney” to recognize the signature beauty they created. Their ability to fashion such a polygonal sound from its simple ostinato is something to cherish and typical of the group’s quiet charm. In this gentle weave of sustained melodic and percussive colors, one finds a storm waiting to undress itself in the light of dawn. Collin Walcott’s tabla uncorks a fine groove in “Pepe Linque” as Paul McCandless dances his soprano sax through a cloudy corridor toward the “Alpenbridge.” This track is the sonic equivalent of Walcott’s cover photograph, walking steadily above the clouds in a space where civilization is nothing more than a passing notion. Further joys course through the veins of “Travel By Day” and the softly peaking wave of “Kronach Waltz.” As its title would imply, “The Glide” goes down easy, thanks in no small part to bassist Glen Moore’s smooth lines. “Amaryllis” then curls its acoustic fingers around a softly swelling rope of sound, pulled higher by an ethereal oboe into the glistening title track, which ends in a delicate conversation.

Crossing is even more highly evolved than Oregon’s self-titled predecessor for ECM. So much of this music lives in the sky, treating its earthen vamps as mere springboards for the comfort of suspension. Crisp with equal parts sunshine and pastoral night, it is a fitting ode to the diurnal. A real treat for the ears, yet even more so for the soul.

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