At the core of an OREGON concert is a joyful embracing of adventure, a willingness by four virtuoso improvisers to expose their creative processes to an audience. Rooted in jazz, but drawing from musical wellsprings all around the world, the quartet aspires to transcend its sources and create compelling, new music with every performance.
Oregon is an American jazz and world music group, originally formed in 1971 by Ralph Towner (guitar, piano, synthesizer, trumpet), Paul McCandless (woodwind instruments), Glen Moore (double bass, violin, piano), and Collin Walcott (percussion, sitar, tabla).
Towner and Moore had been friends and occasional collaborators since meeting in 1960 as students at the University of Oregon. By 1969, both were working musicians living in New York; while collaborating with folksinger Tim Hardin they were introduced to world music pioneer Paul Winter's "Consort" ensemble, particularly member Collin Walcott, with whom Towner began improvising as an informal duo. By 1970 Towner and Moore had joined the Winter Consort and met fellow member McCandless; the four began exploring improvisation on their own, while their contributions continued to be seminal in redefining the Winter Consort "sound" in compositions like Towner's "Icarus".
The four musicians made their first group recording in 1970, but the label, Increase Records, went out of business before it could be released (it eventually was issued byVanguard in 1980 as Our First Record). Oregon made its "formal" debut in NYC in 1971 (originally named "Thyme — Music of Another Present Era", the name change to Oregon was suggested by McCandless).
The group's first release Music of Another Present Era was issued on Vanguard in 1972 (the four also recorded for ECM, though the recording, 1973's Trios Solos, was billed as "Ralph Towner with Glen Moore"). With those initial recordings and the follow-ups Distant Hills (1973) and Winter Light (1974) (all on Vanguard), Oregon established itself as one of the leading improvisational groups of its day, blending Indian and Western classical music  with jazz, folk, space music  and avant-gardeelements. The group released numerous albums on Vanguard throughout the 1970s, also making three records for Elektra/Asylum between 1978 and 1980 (including the highly acclaimed Out of the Woods and a live recording taken from performances at Carnegie Hall and in Canada in late 1979).
After a couple years' hiatus devoted to individual projects (including the birth of Walcott's daughter in 1980), the group reassembled, recording for ECM, releasing the eponymous Oregon in 1983 and Crossings in 1984. Before the latter's release, however, during a 1984 tour Walcott was killed in an automobile accident in the former East Germany. Oregon temporarily disbanded, but regrouped in May 1985 at a memorial concert for Walcott in NYC, with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu sitting in (Walcott's own choice for his replacement should it become necessary). In 1986 Gurtu was invited to join Oregon; the band resumed touring and released three albums during his five years as a member.
After Trilok Gurtu's departure, the group continued as a trio, issuing two albums during that period. The 1997 album Northwest Passage marked a return to the inclusion of percussion, featuring either drummer Mark Walker or Turkish Armenian percussionist Arto Tunçboyacıyan on most tracks; subsequently, Walker was taken on as a full member. In 1999 the ensemble traveled to Moscow, Russia to record with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, premiering orchestral compositions that had been in development for years, some dating back to their first days with the Winter Consort; that project's 2000 release Oregon in Moscow garnered four Grammy nominations. 2002 saw the release of Live at Yoshi's, recorded in San Francisco, the first live Oregon recording in two decades.
In March 2015, it was announced that Glen Moore was departing from the group, with bassist Paolino Della Porta replacing him.
Still active, the group enjoys an avid and eclectic following.