Aage Nielsen | Boise, Idaho United States | 02/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album changed my life! It's cliche, but true. In 1981 I moved from Oregon to Texas and shortly thereafter one day while feeling homesick I found this album in a 25 cent cut out bin. It was the best quarter I ever spent. As a high school bass clarinet, oboe and English horn player, I found Paul McCandless' playing on this album to be a real godsend....truly liberating...to hear these instruments in a group with sitar, guitar, tabla, bass, etc. Through the 80's and 90's I completed my Oregon collection, but Out of the Woods is still my favorite. For orchestral woodwind players, this is as basic to our collection as Strauss and Ravel. To the rest of the world, this is simply world fusion chamber jazz at its finest. The group naturally hasn't been the same since the untimely death of Collin Walcott in 1984, but they regrouped after a short break and still make great music. Paul McCandless reccommended Roots in The Sky to me some years back, as it was from the same period as this album. It is also a great choice, but Out of the Woods is the sentimental classic for me. Judging by the other reviews, I am in good company."
Well deserving of its legendary status
Miko | New York | 07/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, if you don't own any Oregon discs you should get one. Secondly, it should be this one.Out of the Woods is one of those albums that manages to both have a reputation and to live up to it as well. It is the best work of their very fertile Electra period, and for some time all of the Electra recordings were (inexplicably) out of print. And still are. Thankfully there are other labels who are up to the task, at least as far as Out of the Woods is concerned.I can't imagine how many times I had to make a tape of this album for somebody who "just had to have it" and couldn't find it. Not that Oregon haven't produced other masterworks (i.e. Distant Hills), but there's something about this one that really connects with people.I am inclined to think that the remarkably strong compositions are a part of it. As far as Oregon classic tracks are concerned many of them came from this album alone. Yellow Bell, Fall 77, the incomperable Waterwheel. And then there's Witchi-tai-to.Many people have recorded this powerful and moving Jim Pepper composition, many quite successfully. Even Oregon had previously tried it on Winter Light. But this time everything clicked. The Out of the Woods arrangement is by far the benchmark against which all other versions should be measured. It says something about a group when they can take somebody else's material and make it sound like it was plucked from the heavens and given straight to them. The use of the sitar on this track is so insightful that it's difficult to imagine it played without one. This was undoubtably Colin Walcott's shining moment.I have seen Oregon numerous times, both with and without Walcott. So great is their repertoire that you don't get to see many of their songs repeated in concert. I have also seen most of these songs performed many times each. That should tell you something.Pack this one for the desert island."
Definitely the A-list of my "Stranded on a Desert Island" re
Shooshie | Dallas, TX USA | 08/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Out of the Woods is simply one of the finest albums ever committed to vinyl. That it is apparently unavailable at the moment is a sin against music and musicians, which I hope will soon be rectified by a CD release. If we ever go to DVD or beyond as the standard consumer format, this needs to be one of the first albums remastered for that medium, because it can only get better with higher and higher resolution.
These guys are all incredible musicians. There is no question about that. But Oregon was one of those "greater than the sum of its parts" groups. It was a synthesis that transcended its members individual skills (which were immense), and transcends my ability to describe it. The jazz is just the beginning. The improv explores textures, rhythms, harmonies, and ensemble effects that just were not familiar to Americans at that time, and which still would enlighten the casual listener even in today's more diverse musical soundscape. The tabla, sitar, oboe, piano, bass, soprano sax, and other sundry instruments combine into something that occasionally gives you a surge of other-worldliness, as though this group has just broken the nirvana barrier and taken you with them. As a woodwind player myself, Paul McCandless provides endless inspiration. Genius is an over-used word, but I don't feel hesitant to use it to describe him. Ralph Towner leaves behind his roots with Paul Winter Consort to give us a performance that sounds as though it comes from one mind with his fellow players. Repeat that last phrase for all four players. This is an achievement in ensemble playing that is not to be missed. It should be required listening for all musicians.
Please, someone. Re-release this album.
Oregon's Very Finest -- Best of the Best!
J. Winokur | Denver, CO USA | 01/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Knowing almost nothing of this most interesting vein of jazz, I bought this LP based on its beautiful cover, thinking "If this sounds like how it looks, this will be a find!" It did, and was! Oregon's musicians are each virtuosos in their own right, and the combination is exhilirating. This group combines Ralph Towner's classical guitar/piano, Collin Walcott's sitar/tabla, Paul McCandless' oboe and other winds, and Glen Moore's fine bass. Their disciplined, complex music shows better than anything I've ever heard that passionate and cerebral are hardly mutually exclusive! Don't dare confuse this with tepid "new age"! The late Collin Walcott's Sitar/Tabla added intrigue to many earlier Oregon albums. Trilok Gurtu subbed, adding a special fire for a few years after Walcott's untimely and tragic death. Recently,Oregon is an extraordinary trio with guests. All Oregon albums are thrilling, but this is best of the best!"