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Escalator Over the Hill


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Audio CD, October 25, 1994
$14.97
$14.97 $12.31

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1994)
  • Label: Ecm Records
  • ASIN: B00000321I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,444 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Hotel Overture
2. This Is Here...
3. Like Animals
4. Escalator Over The Hill
5. Stay Awake
6. Ginger And David
7. Song To Anything That Moves
8. EOTH Theme
9. Businessmen
10. Ginger And David Theme
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. End Of Head
2. Over Her Head
3. Little Pony Soldier
4. Oh Say Can You Do?
5. Holiday In Risk
6. Holiday In Risk Theme
7. A.I.R. (All India Radio)
8. Rawalpindi Blues
9. End Of Rawalpindi
10. End Of Animals
See all 11 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
As music, one doesn't merely enjoy it, one revels it, like swimming in the ocean at midnight.
Alistair McHarg
The second half of the production features a trio of John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce and Paul Motian in a very Mahavishnu-sounding electric trio.
Charles Cogan
Highly recommended as one of the pinnacles of jazz and jazz/rock from this period, as well as one of the trippiest jazz works ever.
Christopher Forbes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on June 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Boy the late 60s and early 70s were a heady time. The sense of possibility, of creative energy running around the great urban centers of the world must have been truly amazing. Popular culture and popular arts were never taken more seriously than at this time, and there was a sense that anything was possible. Maybe it was something in the brownies at the time, but more amazing work was carried out simultaneously in all fields of the arts than at anytime since. Many of these works have dated rather badly, but others still crackle with the brilliance that characterized them when they were first created. Carla Bley's magnum opus, Escalator Over the Hill falls into this latter category. Enormous, unwieldy, and perhaps even over ambitious, the work still manages to stun, even in its excesses, and produce a powerful overall impression. And the performances are beyond belief.
Bley and company calls escalator a "chronotransduction". Others might call it an opera, but it is an opera without much of a sense of coherent plot. The lyrics, by poet Paul Haines, are cryptic in the extreme. Haines makes Lennon's I Am the Walrus look like Alexander Pope! An example:
Nurses dying their hair don't care,
If the horse is locked, the house still there.
It doesn't seem to matter to them,
The traces of horses and pineapple and cheese,
So many ingredients in the soup no room for a spoon.
If you can find meaning in these lyrics, then perhaps you've indulged in some of those odd brownies lately! However, despite the elliptical lyrics, Bley creates a work of power and imagination. The score is filled with a myriad of influences, 1920s European cabaret music, acid rock, electronic experiments, free jazz, the concepts of Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra, and world music.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alistair McHarg on March 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Escalator Over The Hill is a Herculean, magnificent accomplishment. As music, one doesn't merely enjoy it, one revels it, like swimming in the ocean at midnight. Here is a rare instance of popular culture and high art intersecting, creating something totally new and unrepeatable. Originality on this order of magnitude thrashes everything that has come before it and informs everything that follows.

The details of this epic achievement are too long to summarize, even listing the all-star cast of players would consume too many words. For the best review I've managed to find, track down "Stranded Escalator Over The Hill" by Marcello Carlin, published in Stylus Magazine. Mr. Carlin offers a thorough and highly intelligent perspective on the work, my goal is much less ambitious. I merely want to point you towards the Up escalator, which, according to Heraclitus, is the same as the Down escalator.

Imagine it's late and you've wandered into a crummy bar/nightclub in a derelict section of some nameless, grimy city. The nation and year are unknown. You're transfixed by a tall cigarette girl with a massive shock of blonde hair. She moves easily between the patrons and performers. In the corner, Kurt Weill plays piano, doom and decadence haunt each jolly note. At the bar, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, and William Burroughs scribble words on notebook paper, tear the pages into scraps, stuff the scraps unceremoniously into an overturned black bowler hat, (helpfully supplied by a taciturn Rene Magritte), retrieve said scraps randomly, and lay them on the bar with care.

Tristan Tzara and Marcel Duchamps ascend and descend the stairs, in that order. On the bandstand, the twelve known ghosts of Charlie Parker play in unison except when they let each other solo.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Henry D. Terrell on August 24, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's hard to exaggerate the importance of the Escalator project. It redefined the genres of jazz and fusion, and shifted the center. It was enormously influencial to me as a young musician in the early 70s -- it made me see that the boundaries the industry had created for music and performance were just limits to imagination.
I realize that when someone says a work of art is "important", that's sometimes a code word for inaccessible. What Bley, Haines et al. created is also hugely enjoyable to listen to, filled with humor and wild flights of fancy. I'm pleased to see it out on CD.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1998
Format: Audio CD
i was one of the bass players on this multi-set;my name was Richard Youngstein at time of recording & i'm with the "hotel band." all the ensembles contain well-known & legendary players; some of the vocalists (jack bruce, linda ronstadt,etc.) are stretched past their creative limits and transcend. much of the music (lyrics by haines) by carla bley is religious/spiritual in the highest sense. it was written and played from the heart and resides there in the listener who is truly open. this music must be experienced; it's very difficult to describe in a paragraph or two. listen! my name changed shortly after my recording with carla (& paul bley and a few others) from richard youngstein to dr. noah young. i moved to west coast in '76 and reside in san fernando valley outside l.a. be well and buy this music. it will expand your horizons in the best sense and be good to all your senses! blessings.
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