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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » January 31, 2013
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Oregon at the Palladium
January 31, 2013   
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Legendary American quartet Oregon are coming to Warsaw to perform at the Palladium club March 4. The band will play as part of the Jazz Era concert series and the Warsaw gig will be their only date in Poland.

Dionizy Pi±tkowski, the director of Jazz Era series, says that Oregon “are probably the oldest group to have recorded and toured for almost half a century without a long hiatus or enduring any artistic crises.”

Oregon was formed in 1970 as an incarnation of the famous Paul Winter Consort. The founding members were Ralph Towner (guitar, keyboards), Colin Walcott (drums, sitar, clarinet), Glen Moore (bass, violin, piano, flute) and Paul McCandless (alto sax, oboe, bass clarinet).

The band’s name was borrowed from the University of Oregon where Towner and Moore studied and played together in the 1960s. The group explored jazz-related genres, blending classical music, folk, Hindu music and ethno into a new whole.

Over the years, as the group’s versatility grew, bass clarinet, soprano and sopranino saxes, ethnic flutes, the French horn, clarinet, dulcimer, electric bass, violin, viola and a myriad of percussion instruments all found their way into Oregon’s instrumentation, joining Towner’s nylon and 12-string guitars and piano, McCandless’ oboe and English horn, Moore’s 1715 Klotz bass and Walcott’s sitar and tablas.

Walcott’s death in a 1984 car crash in what was then East Germany seemed to spell the end of Oregon. But after a year’s mourning, the remaining band members were back on stage, teaming up with Walcott’s friend Trilok Gurtu, an Indian tabla player, drummer and percussionist. Gurtu later left and since 1996, Chicago-born Mark Walker has been Oregon’s drummer.

McCandless, a sax player, has largely shaped the fusion style pursued by Oregon with inventive, spiraling phrases he produces on the English horn, oboe, saxophone, flute, clarinet, musette (a 20th-century French variation of the bagpipes) and synthesizers controlled with a mouthpiece.

Bassist Glen Moore recorded and toured with Paul Bley’s experimental Synthesizer Show (1969-1971), but it wasn’t until he joined Oregon that his skills began to stand out. His distinctive double-bass sound gave character to each Oregon release.

Regarded as one of the world’s most remarkable jazz guitarists, Ralph Towner studied composition at the University of Oregon until 1963, after which he dedicated himself to the guitar. He studied classic playing techniques under Karl Scheit in Vienna and then returned to the United States in 1968. He settled in New York, where he played the piano with several jazz bands. He rose to prominence as a guitarist in 1971 with a fantastic 12-string guitar solo he played on I Sing The Body Electric, an album by the Weather Report band.

All Oregon members have played concerts and recorded with countless other bands and jazz projects. They have also invited other musicians to appear on Oregon releases. For example, late Polish jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert was featured on their Violin album from 1978.

Jazz Era: Oregon
March 4, 8 p.m.
Palladium club; Warsaw, 9 Złota St.
Tickets available at www.ticketpro.pl, www.ebilet.pl, www.eventim.pl and the Palladium club
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