Oregon - Friends

SKU 28-WUND9370.2
“One hears that Oregon weren't "friends" much as they recorded this album. The brilliant jazz-folk-world quartet was having some interpersonal difficulties, which resulted in an album rather like the later Beatles albums: a collection of performances defined by the respective sounds of the individual members, rather than by the collaborative muse.
The collaborations worth noting on this disc were with musicians *outside* the group, such as conguero David Earle Johnson on Towner's Latin-inflected "Interstate," and Bennie Lee Wallace on the sax showcase "Gospel Song."
Some of these interactions are fascinating -- the four-handed piano patterns by Glen Moore and Larry Karush on "Love Over Time" recall Steve Reich's "Piano Phase"; and Johnson's congas really put a fire under "Interstate." "Gospel Song," however, is bombastic and tiresome, and the most exquisite pieces on this record -- surprise? -- happen when the core Oregon quartet are playing together. The cover of Bill Evans' "Time Remembered," for instance, is a lovely, stately reading of one of the most beautiful jazz melodies ever written.
That all said, however, "Friends" is a must-buy for Oregon fans because it also contains one track that is one of the pinnacles of their 30-year career: John Abercrombie's "Timeless." Abercrombie himself has covered this profoundly introspective tune a couple of times, including the definitive performance on his own debut ECM album "Timeless." But the moody melody was a perfect one for Oregon to turn into a kind of collective seance. It begins with a couple of minutes of rich drone before engaging the deceptively simple descension that is the core of the melody -- a little Zen rock-garden of a note progression. The late Colin Walcott switches from sitar to tabla in the middle of the take, with Towner's slashing acoustic chords framing a group investigation of the cosmic atmosphere of the piece that feels as natural as breathing. I can't say enough about the profound quality of emotion in this performance -- Paul McCandless's solo is unbearably wrenching and poignant, one of the great moments of oceanic melancholy on any recording. This tune alone deserves 10 stars.”
  • LabelWounded Bird
  • UPC664140937024
Your Price $12.00

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