Oregon bothers jazz people because a) they're difficult to categorize, and b) they radiate endlessly cheerful vibes bordering on vacuous new age while maintaining a sharp improvisational edge. So goes this high-profile appearance on Columbia's spinoff label, which sometimes stays within the bounds of post-bop jazz yet is more likely to go veering off in contemplative folk-like, Asiatic, Spanish, or even neo-classical directions. Ralph Towner handles both the piano and various guitars and synthesizers with equal facility, while Paul McCandless' reed work evokes the pure white light of Paul Winter; Glen Moore continues to man the bass; Trilok Gurtu alternates between tabla and traps; and Nancy King checks in with a bout of eccentric scatting on "Chihuahua Dreams." This is intriguing, free-thinking stuff, always intelligent, evidently durable, yet the music misses the spark of true inspiration that could have made it memorable.
45th Parallel Review
by Richard S. Ginell