Ascenseur pour l’échafaud is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis. It was recorded at Le Poste Parisien Studio in Paris on December 4 and 5, 1957. The album features the musical cues for the 1958 Louis Malle film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud.
Jean-Paul Rappeneau, a jazz fan and Malle’s assistant at the time, suggested asking Miles Davis to create the film’s soundtrack – possibly inspired by the Modern Jazz Quartet’s recording for Roger Vadim’s Sait-on jamais (Lit: ‘Does One Ever Know’, released as: ‘No Sun in Venice’), released a few months earlier in 1957.
Davis was booked to perform at the Club Saint-Germain in Paris for November 1957. Rappeneau introduced him to Malle, and Davis agreed to record the music after attending a private screening. On December 4, he brought his four sidemen to the recording studio without having had them prepare anything. Davis only gave the musicians a few rudimentary harmonic sequences he had assembled in his hotel room, and, once the plot was explained, the band improvised without any precomposed theme, while edited loops of the musically relevant film sequences were projected in the background.
Columbia also released this music on the L.P Miles Davis – Jazz Track. My copy is never very far from my turntable, if not currently playing.
Side 2 consists of newly released material recorded by his sextet, May 26, 1958. These were the same musicians who would soon record Kind of Blue, including pianist Bill Evans.
Elevator To The Scaffold
A1 –The Miles Davis Quintet Générique 2:46
A2 –The Miles Davis Quintet L’Assassinat De Carala 2:08
A3 –The Miles Davis Quintet Sur L’Autoroute 2:16
A4 –The Miles Davis Quintet Julien Dans L’Ascenseur 2:07
A5 –The Miles Davis Quintet Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées 2:49
A6 –The Miles Davis Quintet Dîner Au Motel 3:55
A7 –The Miles Davis Quintet Évasion De Julien 0:50
A8 –The Miles Davis Quintet Visite Du Vigile 2:02
A9 –The Miles Davis Quintet Au Bar Du Petit Bac 2:51
A10 –The Miles Davis Quintet Chez Le Photographe Du Motel 3:52
The Miles Davis Sextet
B1 –The Miles Davis Sextet On Green Dolphin Street 9:55
B2 –The Miles Davis Sextet Fran-Dance 5:52
B3 –The Miles Davis Sextet Stella By Starlight 4:48
I typically listen to this record, as I believe it was intended, one side at a time. If you’re going to listen to just one track I would suggest this one:
It’s got everything I love – Miles Davis breathing into his horn, a soft piano in the background, the whisper of brushes on a drum, and a bass line that just strolls through the whole thing without a care in the world.
The information above, about the album, came from Wikipedia. The story of the record is told in great detail in the liner notes on the back cover of the L.P. Something I really like about jazz records. A lot of them have interesting stories about the players and the performances, sometimes in great detail.