3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Miles Davis in his prime, super-cool with a dark and sophisticated European flavour,
This review is from: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Lift to the scaffold (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.