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on 6 April 2017
I'm new to jazz but I love this. I'll be seeing the film later this month.
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on 19 November 2009
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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on 26 February 2002
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 February 2015
There are three basic versions of this album:

The original album, just 28 minutes long
A version coupled with "Jazz Track"
This, the fullest version at over 74 minutes with every take - sometimes 3-4 versions, some which end abruptly with Miles' whistle signalling an end to proceedings.

Still more - different re-releases may feature the tracks in a different order.

This version is really for the Miles Davis completist, the more casual listener may find repeated takes wearing and prefer the equally wonderful 28 minute version. For the dedicated fan however this version let's you see the progression in Miles' thinking as he constructed a perfectly atmospheric film noir soundtrack with an unfamiliar group of musicians live in front of a film screen in 1957 Paris. Paris itself is evoked strongly in the feel of the music, particularly Paris at night. The music is simply gorgeous and stands alone from the film it was made for, with all tracks short (some very short) to fit the scene on screen. Miles was on fire throughout, and the supporting cast operated well under his guidance. Echo, something he turned to much later in his electric period is apparent. Pick the right version for you and you will not be disappointed, this is one of Miles' major, but often overlooked works.
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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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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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on 7 May 2012
I bought this CD yesterday (not from Amazon) and was perplexed because the CD cover showed the tracks that were on the original LP as tracks 17 to 26. Listening to it and popping it into iTunes confirmed that the CD actually has them as tracks 1 to 10. Jason Parkes had this correct in his review from 2004. Yet the Amazon site has the tracks mislabelled as per my CD. This could be a pain for someone who wanted to download an individual track or two.

Nothing wrong with the music. 5 for Miles, 0 for the packaging/presentation
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on 26 July 2016
....pure Miles; pure genius – this is how I like Miles Davis, and this is how I describe the music..... “Night time, night train – black and sinister – the train approaching, it has a blue light of menace, lingering and watching, like a mechanical, revolving eye of evil -but too late: the blue eye has spotted me from afar, and I await –frozen in thought of a dream of black terror and shadows as I walk across yards of railway lines in criminal and devious mind to escape the black train....”

The music and the film seem inseparable, but it is lovely to have the CD as well as the DVD, with a total running time of music of 74 minutes on the CD.....the music is elegant, crisp, and full of mystique of intrigue.....

All compositions by Miles Davis and the Personnel is:
Miles Davis, trumpet
Barney Wilen, tenor sax
Rene Urtreger, piano
Pierre Michelot, bass
Kenny Clarke, drums.
Paris, December 4 & 5 1957.
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on 8 October 2012
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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on 13 May 2013
I can only think of maybe 2 or 3 Miles records that I would put above lift to the scaffold. Miles was greatly influenced and inspired by his time spent in paris and you can really hear this on the record. Very emotional stuff in a dark and haunting way. Excellent!!!
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