Carla Bley – Escalator Over the Hill (Side 3)

1971 – JCOA Records


As we start with side three of this album, we get our first taste of John McLaughlin. A quartet of McLaughlin, Bley, Jack Bruce, and Paul Motian kick up the energy for a fun rock piece. McLaughlin is a monster on guitar, and Bruce (with his rock experience) knows how to accentuate this type of playing. Motian is a bit restrained, which is nice in this instance, it keeps this grounded and reminds the listener that this is not an extended rock jam, it is still part of the wonderful jazz opera. As the tracks move on, the tune “Why” comes in featuring Linda Ronstadt. This might be the catchiest track of the whole album, featuring Charlie Haden taking up some background vocal duties. Themes keep coming back in various forms, instrumental arrangements harken back to other tracks; by this point in the album there is a basis to start picking up on some of these compositional tactics. The more that unfolds here musically, the more enjoyment you are able to get out of this album. On the next installment, we will start going down the second 3 sides of this triple LP.