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Escalator Over the Hill Import, Original recording reissued


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Audio CD, Import, Original recording reissued, June 27, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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There's no easy way to describe Escalator over the Hill, one of the most ambitious works in 20th century music and one that seems to sum up much of the creative energy that was loose between 1968 and 1972, when it was conceived, composed, and recorded. Beginning with a collection of Paul Haines's distinctive poems--brief, wittily surreal, sometimes aphoristic or elliptical--Carla Bley set out to arrange them as a continuous musical-theater piece, giving specific characters to them as well as melodies. In the process, she drew on available musical genres from Kurt Weill's theater music to free jazz and rock to create her own style, dispensing pieces among several instrumental groupings, from jazz orchestra to "hotel lobby band" to an electronic "phantom band." Bley then drew on an extraordinary collection of singers and musicians to realize the score, casting Jack Bruce and Linda Ronstadt as the lead voices, with appearances by jazz singers Sheila Jordan and Jeanne Lee. The soloists include Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, Roswell Rudd, and Charlie Haden, while the fusion-oriented "Jack's traveling band" features Bruce and John McLaughlin. Bley's closing comment in the notes--"Anything not told, wasn't yet known"--is a fitting summary. Escalator's accomplishment is even more remarkable than its ambitions, creating syntheses of music and language that hadn't appeared before (and haven't since), and blazing a trail that few have had the creativity or energy to imagine following. As durable as it is visionary, its first public performances took place on European tours mounted in the late 1990s. --Stuart Broomer

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Hotel Overture13:14Album Only
listen  2. This Is Here... 5:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Like Animals 1:27$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Escalator Over The Hill 4:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Stay Awake 1:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Ginger And David 1:39$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Song To Anything That Moves 2:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Eoth Theme0:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Businessmen 5:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Ginger And David Theme0:57$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Why 2:19$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen12. It's Not What You Do0:15$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. Detective Writer Daughter 3:19$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen14. Doctor Why 1:28$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen15. Slow Dance (Transductory Music) 1:50$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen16. Smalltown Agonist 5:24$1.29  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. End Of Head0:40$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Over Her Head 2:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Little Pony Soldier 4:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Oh Say Can You Do? 1:08$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Holiday In Risk 3:12$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Holiday In Risk Theme0:47$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. A.I.R. (All India Radio) 4:00$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Rawalpindi Blues12:44Album Only
listen  9. End Of Rawalpindi 9:38Album Only
listen10. End Of Animals 1:30$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. ...And It's Again27:17Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 27, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Ecm Import
  • ASIN: B0000241DG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,268 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
90%
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10%
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

40 of 43 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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21 of 24 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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