Waterwheel, by Oregon

Oregon emerged from the Paul Winter Consort in the early 70s and released great instrumental records that blended Indian, Jazz and Folk music. Their early albums were released on the Vanguard label, of which my favorite was Distant Hills. In 1978 they signed with Elektra and released one of their best records, Out of the Woods. Ralph Towner contributed as a composer this complex piece, rhythmically in an 11/8 time signature, divided into 3-3-3-2 parts per bar. If you find yourself “losing” the repeating cycle when you sing the song in your head you are not alone. That cycle is the essence of this piece, a mantra-like phrase played on oboe and classical guitar interwoven together, accompanied by tabla and acoustic bass. There are other versions of this tune, a memorable one on Ralph Towner’s record Batik with Jack DeJohnette and Eddie Gomez. This version, however, is still the best in my opinion.

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