Quick, name another album that features Don Cherry
, Jack Bruce, Paul Motian
, Gato Barbieri, John McLaughlin, Charlie Haden
, and Linda Ronstadt. Escalator Over The Hill,
composer and arranger Carla Bley's epic "chronotransduction," is one of the great everything-and-the-kitchen-sink projects to fall into the jazz tradition. Collaborating with the poet Paul Haines, whose impenetrable Dadaesque lyrics are basically as informative as the designation "chronotransduction," Bley concocts a deliberately skewed, over-the-top, and always fascinating opera-of-sorts that mixes Kurt Weill-influenced orchestrations with free jazz, pop, electronic music, fusion, world music exotica, and a host of other eclectic styles. Forget about coherent narrative (Bley and Haines certainly did) and concentrate on the music. From the furious McLaughlin-Bruce-Bley-Motian jam, "Rawalpindi Blues," to the delightful vocal duet between Haden and Ronstadt, "Why," and a hundred slanted moments in between, Escalator Over The Hill,
is chock filled with surprise and wonder.