Oregon ‘Lantern’ (Cam Jazz) 4/5

Chamber jazz specialists Oregon return with an album that is very much in the lineage of their ECM recordings, even if a new member is on board in Italian double bassist Paulino Della Porta. Group founding members Paul McCandless and Ralph Towner are both on hand to ensure that the Oregon tradition is maintained. That said, there is a lovely departure in the flamenco guitar led and inspired piece, ‘Duende’, the title of which refers to that essential, yet difficult to pin down (and define in English at least) ingredient at the essence of flamenco music. Classical guitar and soprano saxophone combine well here and, as a whole, the number succeeds in conveying the flavour of southern Spain.

More akin to the Oregon sound of old is the folk-jazz of the opening track,’ Doloniti dance’, where what sounds like oboe and then sweet soprano saxophone play off the guitar, and the percussion enters organically into proceedings. Towner reverts to piano on the quiet and calming duet of, ‘Figurine’, with McCandless this time operating on soprano. A fine ensemble performance can be heard on, ‘Aeolian tale’, where bass and classical guitar combine effectively with the subtle use of percussion and soprano saxophone finally entering. For something that is quite a departure from the rest of the album, ‘Walk the walk’, is a post-bop influenced number that is thoroughly modern in approach and features Towner comping on piano and an extended solo from McCandless. This writer would like to hear more of this more flamboyant side of Oregon. This is the thirtieth Oregon album in total and these seasoned musicians, albeit with a new input on this occasion, have once more come up with a quality recording.

Tim Stenhouse