Oregon Treffpunkt Jazz 1990

Oregon’s newly released live album,  Treffpunkt Jazz, Oregon Ludwigsburg 1990, is the only official Oregon live album that features Trilok Gurtu on tablas and percussion. Like many Oregon fans, I am a diehard appreciator of the early Oregon albums with Colin Walcott on percussion. Nonetheless, I also have a great appreciation for the work that Trilok did during his time with the band. Gurtu is a powerhouse. His tabla playing is hard to beat, although he is perhaps not quite the master of colors that Colin was, who was a poet in his intuitive sensibilities; he always seem to know just the right thing to play at the right moment. That being said, Trilok is no slouch on his extended percussion setup. 

The repertoire on this album ranges from the early Silence of a Candle, through classic Oregon standbys such as the Jim Pepper peyote chant inspired Wichi-Tai-To (first recorded on Winter Light and several times afterwards,) and June Bug (Roots in the Sky,) and extends through the album 45th Parallel, with the marvelous Towner compositions Les Douzilles and Hand in Hand. My favorite performance thus far from this sprawling two CD set is Yet to Be, originally recorded on Northwest Passage – it’s a joyful romp, performed with great aplomb and enthusiasm. Also, Waterwheel (Out of the Woods,) is superbly presented here. Tempos on both of these tunes are brisk, and the performances are inspired and adventurous, yet tight and precise.

Note, this album is from 1990 and thus, Ralph Towner’s fascination with synthesizers is on full display here. Some people objected to the addition of electronic textures to the band’s signature acoustic sound. This may put off the fans of earlier Oregon albums. However, in this listener’s opinion, for the most part, the synths are deployed tastefully and generally do not dominate, nor do they detract.

I feel this album is very representative of the sound of the band in the early 90s, and rather than just being an interesting oddity, primarily targeting Oregon diehards desperate for anything new from the band, I consider it a wonderful addition to the Oregon catalog and an essential gift to any fan.

The recording quality here is nothing short of stellar. In my opinion, this is one of the best Oregon live albums ever released. Perhaps only the earlier In Concert comes close in terms of overall performance and audio fidelity, although I honestly prefer the sound of this recording over any of their previous live releases.

Ein Kommentar

  • Michael Engelbrecht

    Ah, so I finally know, Witchi Tai To was and is a Peyote chant. And they played this concert close to the legendary Tonstudio, Bauer, anything else but a stellar sound would be an insult:)

    We spoke about this, Brian. In my world, the Vanguard albums with the classic quartet were the best, then two great ecm‘s with Trilok. With that Kronavh Waltz (an old Rosato story) Later, much later I saw them, and something was lost for me, after the Gurtuk years. These synthesizers they were like toys in my ears that aamde it all too nice, perfect and cozy. So In am really curious to let this 1990 gig pass my ears…

    Just thinking of BLUE SUN, the Towner solo album, i was always a bit ambivalent about that. mostly I teturn to DIARY, SOLO CONCERT (the 12 string magic live at Amerikahaus) or some of Towner‘s late solo albums like Ana.

    Speaking of solo albums, in April Fred Hersch comes along worh another solo (piano) album recorded in Lugano. That is beyond words, understatement, intensity, space, magic, in other words: we‘re in the Blow Away Zone on SILENT, LISTENING.

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