Miles Davis - Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud

: In stock

: LP Record

: Ermitage

Regular price £23.95

The French film noir may be long forgotten, but Miles Davis’ soundtrack remains a groundbreaking development in modal jazz. Ascenseur pour l'échafaud...


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The French film noir may be long forgotten, but Miles Davis’ soundtrack remains a groundbreaking development in modal jazz. Ascenseur pour l'échafaud is an album by the 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. Limited yellow edition high definition premium 180gm vinyl LP repressing of this classic Jazz album. Originally issued on yellow vinyl, the ongoing popularity of LP pressings and repressings has ensured the longevity of this format for years to come.

It’s no slight to French filmmaker Louis Malle that his first feature movie, the film-noir caper L’Ascenseur pour echafaud (titled Elevator To The Gallows in the U.S.) is today as famous for its soundtrack as it is the film itself. Malle himself called the moody soundtrack “un cadeau”a gift and indeed, the music Miles spontaneously recorded with a primarily French jazz group is today revered as one of the best examples of modern jazz serving as a cinematic score. That the effort was done in such an impromptu fashion—after one screening of the film, during an overnight recording session in a Paris radio station with musicians who were not his regular band makes it even worthier of admiration. Music does indeed travel with the musician.

Then there’s the sound of the soundtrack itself: melancholy and mysterious to an extreme, filled with moods and mood-swings, like that moment in “Générique” when the tonality shifts from minor to major. It lasts but for a few seconds—at 1:11 into the tune—before the clouds roll back.

“Générique” is one of the more pronounced, modal exercises on the soundtrack, a prefigure to “So What” in a way; “Florence sur les Champs-Elysées” is its more upbeat cousin. Other Ascenseur tracks are similarly reductive in their use of harmony, and rely on other details: the repeated, pained two-note phrase in “Julien dans l’ascenseur,” played through open trumpet, and then with the Harmon mute. The ominous, tick-tock bass pattern of “L’Assassinat de Carala” that repeatedly hits, as the trumpet attempts to pull the tune somewhere, anywhere else. “Au Bar du Petit Bac” is a welcome change of pace to the overall mood as Miles’ trumpet and Barney Wilen’s saxophone chase each other to a toe-tapping groove. The up-tempo “Sur l’autoroute” and “Dîner au motel” both bristle with bebop’s signature restlessness: Miles plays 16th-note runs and yet it remains harmonically static, going nowhere, like the lovers running in vain after the young street tough who murders the older German. 

As Miles offered something rare and special in his music for the film, so Malle bestowed a gift in return: the opportunity for Miles to experiment on a new musical approach that had been brewing inside him: the approach that would come to be known as “modal jazz” and shape future albums like Porgy and Bess and of course, Kind of Blue. The L’Ascenseur soundtrack serves as the sketchbook that led to those later masterpieces.

Album: Miles Davis - Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud
Label:    Ermitage – VNL 12204 LP
Format:    Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Yellow
Country: Italy
Released: 02 February 2024
Genre:    Jazz
Style:    Cool Jazz


Side A:

1    Générique
2    L'Assassinat de Carala
3    Sur L'Autoroute
4    Julien Dans L'Ascenseur
5    Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées

Side B:

1    Dîner Au Motel
2    Evasion de Julien
3    Visite du Vigile
4    Au Bar du Petit Bac
5    Chez Le Photographe du Motel

Miles Davis: Trumpet
Baney Wilen: Tenor-Sax 
René Urtreger: Piano
Pierre Michelot: Bass
Kenny Clarke: Drums


Miles Davis is one of the most innovative, influential and acclaimed figures in the history of music. Miles Davis made music that grew from an uncanny talent to hear the future and a headstrong desire to play it. From his beginnings in the circle of modern jazz, he came to intuit new worlds of sound and challenge. While the vast majority of musicians – jazz, rock, R&B, otherwise – find the experimental charge and imperviousness of youth eventually running down, Miles forever forged ahead. In doing so, Miles became the standard bearer for successive generations of musicians, shaped the course of modern improvisational music more than a half-dozen times. 

Recorded December 4/5, 1957 At Poste Parisien in Paris, France

Originally released Fontana Records © 1958

Recorded At Le Poste Parisien
Copyright © Opera Leader UK
Manufactured By Ermitage
Distributed by OpenReelTopReel Hub

This release is part of the New Ermitage collection available from January 2024: 18 jazz and soul titles reissued on yellow vinyl with new codes and renewed graphics.

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Miles Davis - Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud

Regular price £23.95