As of this recording, three out of four members of Oregon have been playing together in the group for 42 years. Drummer and percussionist Mark Walker has been on board since 1996, making them among the longest-running small groups in jazz history. Given their long-established sound and collective sense of pan-global adventure, Oregon have remained vital, restless, and disciplined. Family Tree features five new Ralph Towner compositions plus two utterly reworked -- and superior -- versions of others recorded on his solo offerings, two new Paul McCandless numbers, a new one by Glen Moore, and two collective compositions from the band. Family Tree is the first recording since 1989's 45th Parallel that does not feature any group improvisation. The album was recorded at Ludwigsburg's glorious state-of-the-art Tonstudio Bauer, which was also the home studio for 2010's In Stride and three of the band's albums on ECM in the mid-'80s. Standout tracks here include Towner's strident "Tern," McCandless' crystalline "Julian," and the upbeat, elegant, group-composed closer "Carnival Express," which recalls the more celebratory aspects of Weather Report (albeit with a lot less electricity) in their mid-'70s prime.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek