It's a cliché to say that a band is "in a class by itself" or "defies categorization," but in the case of Oregon, those aren't empty clichés -- they're statements of fact. Oregon's style of jazz is quite unique; the band has always been difficult to categorize. You could call the 1970s recordings on The Best of the Vanguard Years fusion, but while Oregon was part of the 1970s fusion explosion, no one would mistake their music for the fusion of Miles Davis, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Oregon's music is calmer and has a certain tranquillity. Its introspective blend of jazz, rock, pop, European classical, folk, and world music (especially Indian ragas) is as recognizable as it is unorthodox. The amazing thing is how organic and natural Oregon's eclecticism sounds; risk-taking classics like "Aurora," "Canyon Song," and "Tide Pool" have held up well over the years and don't sound the least bit pretentious or unnatural. Spanning 1970-1979, this CD illustrates the excellence of Oregon's Vanguard output and is the logical starting point if you're exploring the band's music for the first time.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson