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  • Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold): Original Soundtrack
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Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold): Original Soundtrack Soundtrack

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Audio CD, Soundtrack, October 25, 1990
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Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold): Original Soundtrack + Elevator to the Gallows (The Criterion Collection)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Unavailable in the U.S.! Miles Davis' moody, evocative music for the Louis Malle movie (translation: The Lift to the Scaffold) comes in two different forms on this reissue. There is a chronological sketch pad of tracks which didn't appear in the original release, or appeared in altered form, and tracks 16-26, which comprise the body of the original release, complete with the odd dollop of post-production echo to italicize the film's dramatic content. Recorded on December 4-5, 1957, the music for the film has an elegant, romantic air to it. In the company of such French jazzmen as Pierre Michelot and tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen, this soundtrack is something of a throwback to the feel of Miles' early '50s Blue Note recordings with drummer Kenny Clarke. Rarely has Miles' open tone been more poignant, and that bittersweet quality probably owes something to Miles' ongoing affair with the film's leading lady, Jeanne Moreau.

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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

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B000004785
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,308 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on January 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Twenty six tracks all written by Mr Davis performed by at least two other legendary musicians - Mr Pierre Michelot, bass, and Mr Kenny Clarke, drums - with sterling support by Mr Wilen on tenor and Mr Urtreger on piano with Mr Davis in an intoxicating love affair with the delicious and iconic actor Jeanne Moreau, must have brought out the best in him. A terrific album without one uninteresting musical moment, which must be included as one of the greatest sound tracks ever, and superior by far to say, Mr Davis at the Blackhawk. Brilliant.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD
In 1957, Louis Malle was 24 years. He was filthy rich. Incredibly handsome. And prodigiously talented --- he had already co-directed and shot Jacques Cousteau's Oscar-winning documentary, "The Silent World." Now he was ready to make his first feature.

He chose an overlooked noir novel about a man who kills his lover's husband, only to get trapped in the elevator while fleeing. His car gets stolen; complications multiply. Meanwhile, we --- and his lover --- wait to see if he'll get free before the police arrive.

Malle co-authored a clever, stylish script. He gave the film an ironic title: "Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud," or "Elevator to the Gallows." As the lover, he hired Jeanne Moreau, a successful but not incendiary stage actress. And as his cinematographer, he chose the young innovator, Henri Decae.

And then this first-time director got Miles Davis to improvise and record the soundtrack.

Davis was then at the pinnacle. He had revolutionized jazz once already. Now he was turning away from hard-charging bursts of sound to a cooler, modal style that would change the dominant style of American jazz once again.

What could he have possibly seen in Louis Malle?

Fun.

"I was in Paris to play as a guest soloist for a few weeks," Davis later explained. "I met Louis through Juliette Greco. He told me he had always loved my music. I agreed to write the musical score for his film because it was a great learning experience --- I had never written a music score for a film before."

Davis didn't really "write" this one, either. Oh, he said he "looked at the rushes of the film and got musical ideas to write down.
Read more ›
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By William E Donoghue on May 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Recorded within weeks of Kind of Blue, this was a chance for a love-struck Miles Davis (Juliet Greco, if I am correct) living in Paris for a few months playing his heart out with all of his skills at the peak of his talents with an excellent European band. If you love Kind of Blue, this is Miles with those skills set against musicians and a movie drawing fresh inspiration from him. What a wonderful gift that this is now available with alternative takes.
'fessor Mojo AKA Bill Donoghue
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Maddy on August 2, 2005
Format: Audio CD
A friend told me that this was the perfect late night music (preferably if it were raining or foggy). I have to agree. It's moody, with occasional bits of brooding. Final (take 2) is the perfect example of yearning and longing turned into music. It's the kind of emotion only Miles Davis can create.

If you're looking for music to keep you company and set the tone, this is the album for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I have this Lp from 1960 and for 38 years i heard it and every time i like it better!!!. Every time I think the music get better. She makes me happy!. This record pushed me to buy saxophone and to be professional musician for 35 years in Athens. Great, Great, bravo Miles & thank you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey D. Wilson on May 14, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I'll admit that I'm not the biggest jazz fan, but I do know what I like. I bought this CD on a recommendation -- looking for something different -- and could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The fact that this was a spot recording of a movie soundtrack (yes, there are some repetitions) allows this album to flow better than the other Miles Davis' albums I've heard. It is pensive and moody, but it's the feel of a smokey room and good bourbon. I now put this baby on whenever I need something relaxing in the background that allows my focus to come and go as it wishes, or when I just want to lie on the sofa and chill while staring at the ceiling. It may not be "essential" Miles, but it is a great album.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Doreen Appleton on October 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For those of you who are old enough to remember the Columbia LP with "On Green Dolphin Street," "Fran-Dance" and "Stella by Starlight" on one side and the soundtrack of ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS on the other, here is a more precise description of the tracks on this CD: the last 10 tracks, 17 to 26, are the soundtrack with echo that you remember from the LP. The other tracks, 1 to 16, are either alternate takes or takes identical to the echo takes, but without the echo. So, the soundtrack as you remember it is safely included on this disc. I used my CDR to record tracks 17 to 26 twice. I then used track 18, "The murder of Carala," as the final song of my mix, because Track 26 doesn't sound good as the finale. To my ear Miles Davis's sound is captured better here than on KIND OF BLUE. This is a superb mood album, very nocturnal and mysterious, as other reviewers have said. Above all, it could not have been made by any artist of any period except Miles Davis. This adds to its distinction. When the session was over, Miles Davis said, "I'll never do this again." Fortunately for us, he did it once, brilliantly.
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Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold): Original Soundtrack
This item: Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold): Original Soundtrack
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