Out of the Woods/Roots in the Sky

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Out of the Woods/Roots in the Sky Review

by Michael G. Nastos

After their productive stint with the Vanguard label, Oregon released two excellent LPs, recorded in 1978, for the Elektra label. Those sessions -- Out of the Woods and Roots in the Sky -- are reissued here on one CD. This was a prolific period for Ralph Towner as a composer, represented here by seven of the 18 tracks. It was also prior to Towner's interest in electronics, so his virtuosic acoustic guitar is also intact. The most outstanding pieces include "Yellow Bell," "Waterwheel," Jim Pepper's "Witchi-Tai-To," "Vessel," "Ogden Road," and the title track. You can hear Oregon's supreme confidence, the development of the combo's original East Indian-influenced folk-jazz into a refined ethnic fusion or worldwide-influenced stance, and the cohesion of a true working ensemble. The incarnation of Oregon heard on Out of the Woods/Roots in the Sky is truly missed, but here is a document that collectively remembers this version of the band very well.

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