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Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Lift to the scaffold Soundtrack, Extra tracks

17 customer reviews

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Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz ... Read more in Amazon's Miles Davis Store

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Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Lift to the scaffold + Kind Of Blue + A Love Supreme
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Oct. 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack, Extra tracks
  • Label: Fontana
  • ASIN: B000004785
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,230 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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.
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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Performed by a Miles Davis-fronted European band for a movie by Louis Malle, this music helped define the sound of film noir. It made viewers think the genre's films had always sounded just so, with slow-walking bass beats and muted, slithering horn lines miming the characters on the screen--and underlining their emotions. The melodies here are brief fragments, sometimes rising up only to disappear and then briefly return. This is Miles playing in the moment, improvising musical impressions as he watched the screen. And what he played managed to capture the era of postwar everywhere, while it offered Davis the freedom to test his on-the-spot compositional skills within a minimalist context. How many other beboppers who worked within the shadow of Charlie Parker could have ever recorded these little gems? --John Szwed

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 3 July 2004
Format: Audio CD
Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) was in many ways the definitive Nouvelle Vague crime movie (later relations included Bande a Part and Tirez Sur La Pianiste); it's soundtrack was also definitively 'new wave.' The great Miles Davis, breaking from his earlier collaborations with Charlie Parker & Gil Evans was on a three-week tour of Europe & somehow ended up scoring Malle's movie in a single-mythic night-time session (which very much seemed to mirror the improvised nature of many New Wave works). Jazz would also be key to several other Nouvelle Vague films, famously A Bout de Souffle (1959) & films such as Le Souffle Au Coeur & Lacombe, Lucien- which used the music of Charlie Parker & Django Rheinhardt respectively.
This Miles is the one that appeals most- the earlier incarnations (e.g. The Birth of the Cool) don't appeal that much to me- it was really 'Flamenco Sketches' that blew my mind (& that came out of this kind of sound). Ascenseur Pour l'echafaud could be seen as a precursor to Davis' more ambient works, notably In a Silent Way & Agharta. This 2003 reissue comes with a wonderful cover (featuring snaps of the gorgeous Jeanne Moreau, one of the film's stars, hanging out with Miles) & great sleevenotes. The original 10-track soundtrack LP is present & remastered; while tracks 11-26 take in a wealth of outtakes: this is certainly great value!
As a previous review has noted, this LP seems very much overlooked in the Miles-canon and along with Kind of Blue (1959) it probably represents the best introduction to the many joys of Miles Davis. To me this sounds like the kind of music you should play on endless sunday mornings as Jeanne Moreau or Jean Seberg flip between feminine and masculine and you smoke Gitane endlessly...
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Feb. 2002
Format: Audio CD
Often overlooked (partly) because it has not been available in many High Street shops, L'ascenseur catches Miles in yet another defining moment during a short stay in Paris. Free flowing music, composed on the spot whilst seeing the movie.
Much more sober in its arrangements, this music score is great jazz - much less boppy and much less orchestrated than much of his previous works. Certainly a "must have" for any Miles fan and a good buy for any newcomer to jazz.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nikica Gilic on 19 Nov. 2009
Format: Audio CD
Maybe I'm biased, since this is one of my first Miles Davis LPs I bought (no, I don't own the CD), but this is BRILLIANT music,
and Miles show how he could adapt to the cinematic visions of Louis Malle and at the same time remain a magnificent, instantly recognizable MILES. This is one of the most revered fruits of Miles love affair with France (where he felt much more human and appreciated as a musician than in the US; read his autobiography...)...

The European participants of this session are by no means stand-ins for US musicians; Miles works with them beautifully and they work back equally beautifully. Moody, sensitive, inquisitive music, highly recommended to fans of modern jazz, Miles Davis, jazz trumpet, film music...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Guardian TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 April 2011
Format: Audio CD
This recording session from the night of 4-5 December 1957 is one of a very few Miles Davis ever composed in Europe for a European project, in this case the soundtrack to Louis Malle's film noir `Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud' (literally `Elevator to the gallows'). The film was a dark and ironic tale with a convoluted plot involving a planned murder last thing on a Friday afternoon, staged to look like suicide, following which the scheming murderer gets stuck in the building's elevator whilst leaving, as the electricity shuts off for the weekend. The original album cover showed a monochrome still from the movie: main protagonist French actress Jeanne Moreau in a classic and arresting pose.

Louis Malle was a great fan of Miles' music and asked him personally to compose and record the film's score: Miles was inspired and delighted. Recorded in one night-time session in an atmospheric old building in Paris to inspire the mood, Miles was joined by Barney Wilen on tenor sax, Rene Urtreger on piano, Pierre Michelot on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums, to sublime result. It's super-cool night-time jazz at its very best, in the loose modal style shortly to characterise Miles' revolutionary `Kind of Blue' period, with numbers mainly slow, dark and atmospheric and a few lighter pieces, spiced with a couple faster and more up-tempo for the movie's scenes of chase and movement. The predominant note is however slow and midnight-moody, perfect dinner-party background music of impeccable taste and ultra-cool; intelligent and thoughtful, and in mood reminiscent of `In a Silent Way'.

The CD contains the original 10 final cuts from the movie soundtrack, plus a number of alternative takes for several pieces. This is Miles at his very best, from one of his most productive and innovative periods spiced with an unusual, dark and sophisticated European flavour; definitely one of his top ten recordings. Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nomad on 8 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The power of this music comes in part from its haunting quality - by which I mean how the simplest of refrains can imbed itself into the memory, sometimes for all eternity. None more so than the opening track. So why repeat it FOUR times in succession, to the point where it becomes everything it wasn't intended to be... a total irritation? Same with the second track - why THREE times in succession? Patently absurd! If you must have multiple takes, stick them at the end - then at least we have a choice of walking away. Much better in my opinion is the MD CD 'Jazz Track' - it has single takes of most of the music here (there was only 18 minutes of actual music in the original film apparently) plus 4 tracks with the MD Sextet from 1958, and another 3 with the MD Quintet featuring Sonny Rollins - a much more listenable alternative for the majority I would suggest. And if anyone wants an in-depth account of the whole psychology and history of what is rightly considered a classic film score, they could do worse than read John Szwed's outstanding MD biography 'So What' - it has four fascinating pages of background information and commentary on this masterpiece. Highly recommended.
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