My initial response to Our First Record was to suspect that Oregon’s former label had dragged out some worthless old tapes in an effort to cash in on the jazz group’s relatively successful current stint with Elektra. On second thought and first listen, though, I changed my mind.
For one thing, Vanguard deserves whatever it can get because, as Oregon’s Colin Wolcott points out in the liner notes, the label “had the courage to keep recording us, in spite of minimal record sales, from 1972 to 1978.” More important, while these are indeed old tapes (made in 1970), they are far from worthless. On the contrary, not only do they suggest auspicious future directions; they stand totally on their own merits. Even a decade ago on its first quartet recording, Oregon had a mature style, firm purpose, and unique musical recipe. The ethereal, Eastern-influenced music on this album alone would be enough to give Oregon a permanent place on my list of jazz favorites.