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Carla Bley$
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Amy C. Beal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036361

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036361.001.0001

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Escalator over the Hill

Escalator over the Hill

Jazz Opera as Fusion

(p.41) 5 Escalator over the Hill
Carla Bley

Amy C. Beal

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at Bley's most ambitious work to date: Escalator over the Hill (1971). Though the work is colloquially referred to as a “jazz opera,” its creators called it a “chronotransduction.” Widely considered Bley's greatest achievement, the musically unclassifiable Escalator over the Hill is an epic, somewhat impenetrable work of art, one that nourished Bley's proclivity toward musical boundary crossing and her genuinely collaborative nature. It was the first record released in her own name, and every aspect of this production belonged to Bley, from composing, arranging, playing, singing, and conducting to editing and mixing the tapes and preparing the master. Ultimately, the elaborate instrumentation of Escalator over the Hill reflects Bley's eclectic tastes, as well as the serendipity and haphazardness of her casting; having little money to pay performers, Bley notoriously drew in everyone she could, plus their relatives and roommates.

Keywords:   Escalator over the Hill, jazz opera, chronotransduction

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