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Miles Davis - Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud (Lift To The Scaffold) CD (album) cover


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.29 | 41 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This filled-to-near-capacity CD reissue is actually two albums: the original soundtrack to the 1957 film-noir directed by Louis Malle (translated title: 'Elevator to the Gallows'), and a generous collection of unused music and multiple takes from the same Paris recording session. The arrangement gives listeners a chance to compare the work in progress to its final realization, and the difference is dramatic, accomplished with little more than a tasteful application of atmospheric studio reverb.

The music itself, assembled over two days (with almost no preparation) by Davis and a quartet of local French jazzers, may be the quintessential film noir score. Listen to the opening 'Générique' theme for proof: a moody, late night urban soundscape so vivid you can almost smell the empty, rain-slicked boulevards, and see the slowly blinking neon lights reflected in the gutters. Check out too the probing trumpet cries of 'Assassinat', played over an ominous upright bass ostinato.

Elsewhere on the album ('Motel', 'Sur l'Autoroute') are some truly boppin' beatnik grooves, with the muted trumpet trading frenetic solo turns alongside tenor sax man Barney Wilen. Complete the experience with coffee, cigarettes, and optional black turtleneck attire.

The film was produced a full decade before Davis even began to contemplate a fusion of Jazz and Rock styles, and certainly bears no relation whatsoever to anything resembling Prog. The album was hardly groundbreaking, at least compared to the many other milestones (pun not entirely unintended) in Davis' career. But in retrospect it's the sort of traditional Jazz even a non- jazzer can dig, thanks to the evocative cinematic ambience in every track.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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