Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (soundtrack)

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
Soundtrack album by
Released 1958 (1958)
Recorded December 4 and 5, 1957
Studio Le Poste Parisien, Paris
Length 25:38 (original LP); 71:18 (CD)
Label Fontana
Miles Davis chronology
Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Los Angeles Times 4/5 stars[4]
Mojo favorable[5]
Tom Hull – on the Web B+[6]

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.

Release and reception

In Europe, the soundtrack was originally released as a 10 inch LP on the Fontana label.[7] In America it was released by Columbia as side one of the album Jazz Track (CL 1268), with the second side filled by three new tracks recorded with his regular sextet (later to be re-released on the 1958 Miles CD). Jazz Track received a 1960 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Performance, Solo or Small Group. The CD edition, released internationally by Fontana/Polygram in the late '80s, contains the original soundtrack material, versions of the original album tracks without the reverb that was added to the initial release, and several previously unreleased alternate takes.

In the opinion of Romina Daniele, the musical mood and characteristics of the soundtrack immediately preceded and introduced Miles Davis's subsequent records Milestones (1958) and Kind of Blue (1959).[8]

Track listings

10" LP

Side one

Side two


Note: The track listing above refers to the currently available CD version. The original soundtrack to the film, as mixed and edited (with additional reverb) in 1958, and used for the screen, can be heard in tracks 17 to 26.



  1. ^ Pejrolo, Andrew (April 2006). "Transatlantic Interplays: The Origins of Miles Davis's Modal Jazz in Ascenseur pour l'échafaud". Atlantic Studies. 3 (1). ISSN 1478-8810.
  2. ^ Dimery 2010, p. 34.
  3. ^ Nastos, Michael G. (2000). Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud – Miles Davis | AllMusic: Review. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2011-03-20.
  4. ^ Feather, Leonard (June 18, 1989). "Mixed Doubles in New Jazz Releases". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Caulfield, Mary (March 3, 2011). Miles Davis – Disc of the day – Mojo. Mojo. Archived from the original on 2011-03-20.
  6. ^ Hull, Tom (n.d.). "Grade List: Miles Davis". Tom Hull – on the Web. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Ascenseur Pour L'Échafaud, at Discogs, accessed June 18, 2015
  8. ^ Daniele, Romina (2011). Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, Il luogo della musica nell'audiovisione. Milan: RDM. pp. 133–136. ISBN 978-88-904905-9-0.