"Being a hard core Oregon fan for nearly 25 years now, it's hard to listen to this recording without a tinge of sadness as it's the very last recording made by the original quartet before percussionist/sitarist Collin Walcott's death in a tour bus accident. Too bad too as it seemed the band was possibly once again morphing into something slightly different. On the previous recording (simply titled "Oregon"), guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner had introduced synthesizers into this acoustic bands aresenal bringing in an even wider sonic pallette to the groups works. It's a shame much of the bands earlier output wasn't recorded for the ECM label (longtime recording home of all of Ralph Towner's solo albums)for the labels famous for the sound quality and attention paid to the sonic details of their recordings. All the same this is only the bands second ECM recording. Personally, I prefer this over the previous recording which seemed to be largely improvised in the studio. Here, the longer more "epic" pieces are really the ones that stand out. They also tend to be the ones that utalize synthesizers the most, and to great effect. "Queen of Sydney" (8:10) and "Amaryliis" (8:49)(both written by reedman Paul McCandless)are really the tracks that show the most depth and hint at a slightly newer direction for this band that, even at this point, had quite a few recordings under their belt. This is one of the few Oregon recordings where Ralph Towner wasn't responsible for most of the compositions oddly, which may account for the slight difference in the overall sound. Bassist Glen Moore, as usuall, contributes 2 songs built around some very earthy repeating upright bass patterns which the band typically uses primarily to solo around. There is only one Collin Walcott composition here, "Travel By Day", which was also recorded with the late Walcott's other group at the time, CoDoNa, a wonderful trio which consisted of the late trumpeter Don Cherry along with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. The version here is quite interesting since the instrumentation in these two groups are quite different. Ralph Towner contributes four compositions here, still actually much less than in usual Oregon offerings, and these, atypically, are among the shorter tracks on the recording. The title track, one of Towner's compositions, is quite nice. I find Oregon music far from avante-guard, however there's something about this bands music which is too "difficult" for most people and this album/CD would not probably be the place to start for newcomers not used to incredibly adventorous music. Maybe a better place to start would be the beautiful "Winter Light" (which, by the way, features one of my very favorite Oregon album covers, a photo taken by none other than Collin Walcott) However, for those who can handle more experimental forms of music, free-jazz, Stockhausen, whatever, then they could start here without hearing anything at all "difficult" with this beautiful expressive recording,the last by this great band with the original four members...49 minutes of a wonderful journey, great for late-night solo drives in your auto by the way!"
Gorgeous, Sad Masterpiece
Stephen Silberman | SF, CA USA | 06/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the last Oregon album recorded while the brilliant percussionist and sitarist Collin Walcott was alive; he was killed in a car accident while this album was being mixed. It's a deep and rich collection of haunting melodies, boasting the classic Oregon telepathy and a plethora of instruments, with the addition of the very subtle and organic use of synthesizers. A brooding melancholy hovers over this album, which is uncanny considering the tragedy that was about to occur. The album's final track, "Crossing," however, glows with a bittersweet exhiliration that makes it the perfect sign-off from the original constellation of musicians that were Oregon. A dark gem of an album, and a must-buy for fans of the group."
An ideal movie soundtrack
Far Lefkas | Balto.-WDC metro area | 12/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nobody's yet written a movie for which "Crossing" could be the soundtrack?
I've had the vinyl album (c. 1985), the cassette, & now the CD: the only recording for which I've acquired & still have all three (& over about 18 years). That incessant rolling-wheels tambourine on title cut always send chills up my spine.
My personal touchstone for music is whether it delivers a sense of urgency: this album does, with every tune. It sure does stay in the CD player."
David J. Ohanlon | Lilyfield, NSW Australia | 03/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of life's most sublime pleasures is in coming back to an album (or indeed an old friend) after many years' absence & finding that everything's just as good as you remember it. In my case, a stolen laptop & ipod meant I had to trawl through my CD collection once again to re-load itunes &, in the case of Oregon, re-load seven albums. Well, I can honestly say that Crossing not only confirmed its place as my favourite Oregon album but probably also one of my all time favourite albums period. Yet, listening to "Queen of Sydney" the opening track might make you wonder if I've lost my mind as it is undeniably an extremely difficult piece to "get" (with a very edgy oboe solo part in the middle). Accordingly, my advice to all is to skip to the lilting, swinging second track "Pepe Linque" which simply carries you along into another world - I absolutely ADORE McCandless' doubling on bass clarinet & saxophone on this piece with a gorgeous cadence with about a minute to go. Easily an album highlight. "Alpenbridge" is a classic Towner piece - simple acoustic guitar with an also simple oboe line over the top - even more lilting than "Pepe". "Travel by Day" which follows, is the only Walcott piece & features him on Sitar - given what happened during the mixing of this album you should simply let this piece soak you up & wash all over you. "Amaryllis" is a deep, engaging piece showcasing Towner (on Prophet 5 & Classical Guitar), Walcott's mastery of the sitar & McCandless' haunting oboe. And then, of course, there's the gorgeous closing title track, which, although mainly an outlet for Towner's skills on guitar, piano, synthesiser AND percussion, is given the utmost poignancy by the sad events which followed the recording. In short, a magnificent album which fulfilled all the promise of Oregon's previous albums & serves as a wonderful tribute to the original Oregon."