Oregon, “Crossing” ECM 1985 vinyl, by Grant Stoner

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Since I live in Oregon now, I thought it apropos to review an album by one of my favorite groups, Oregon. Oregon ” Crossing” ECM 1985 vinyl.

Another ECM you say? We’ll, get used to it. Actually, this is one of just a few Oregon albums on ECM. They flirted with a few other labels over the years, and the leader, Ralph Towner, has recorded many solo albums with the label. But this album is particularly special, as it is the last with sitarist, and percussionist, Colin Walcott. He died tragically in a car crash along with one of their assistants, Jo Harting in 1984.

I think it’s one of their best, however. It starts with the spacey ” Queen of Sydney” which some may say is typical ECM. Paul McCandless plays etheric, melodic oboe over a droning synth melody played by Ralph. Colin adds percussive sounds over that. Hauntingly beautiful. Then gears change to the, may I say, poppy and accessible ” Pepe Linque”. Glen Moore plays a bouncing bass line, with Paul’s clarinet and sax dueling with Ralph’s cornet and piano. Colin adds propelling tabla and percussion.

There’s a lot of variety, as a lot of different instruments are used, contributing to many varied moods. Colin plays sitar on only one track, the beautiful ” Alpenbridge”. Ralph is quite a musician, being equally capable on guitar and piano. He’s one of very few I know of who plays lead guitar on an acoustic 12 string. Listen to ” Amaryllis”. It starts with a 12 string solo over a distant Prophet 5 synth background. The rest eventually join in with a cascading melody from Paul’s oboe.

The sound? Need to ask? It’s ECM. Absolutely beautiful. Spacious, layered, every instrument holding a perfect level in the mix, with side to side and front to back imaging. If you haven’t experienced Oregon, or even if you have, get this album.

It’s very rewarding for deep listening or background. Cheers

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society