MILES DAVIS Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud (1958) + Kind Of Blue (1959)


Authorities on the subject have routinely made the case for Kind Of Blue being the greatest album of all time. It’s my favorite, without reservation, and tough to count how many copies I’ve purchased over the years, though… I’m estimating approximately 12 to 15 – from original issues to remastered vinyl, bad CDs, remastered CDs, gold CDs and box sets, among others. Shit, most of those earlier issues weren’t even pressed at the correct speed. So… why is Kind Of Blue so important and how has it been so resistant to the ravages of time? Frankly, I’m not the one to tell you. I’ve read all the stuff about the “modal” approach Miles brought into the sessions – featuring dream team John Coltrane (tenor), Cannonball Adderley (alto), Bill Evans (piano), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) & Jimmy Cobb (drums). But, I don’t fully understand what it all means. In fact, what explains the approach best for me is how Kind Of Blue evolved in the first place – which begins with the 1958 soundtrack LP, Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud (Lift To The Scaffold). Because Miles accepted this French film project on such short notice, and the language barriers (not to mention, a freshman ensemble) created the need for musical simplification, Davis opted to streamline his approach to this session. Which is where the modal form comes into play. Instead of relying on charts and arrangements, Miles directed his players to improvise on scales and melody lines (an idea he’d briefly attempt on Milestones) as the band played live to the film. The result became somewhat of a rehearsal for the concept of Kind Of Blue, and fans familiar with the album will note Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud has a similarly moody, atmospheric interplay, albeit in rougher form… and without one of the greatest jazz bands on Earth taking solos. As for any analysis of Kind Of Blue, I’ve got nothing to add to the volumes already printed on the subject, except to say that the album has never once let me down. Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud – Complete Recordings (HERE) is the 1988 expanded reissue, while there are two editions of Kind Of Blue here, for those interested. One is the 1997 reissue (HERE), which features the sessions’ one known outtake, “Flamenco Sketches.” (It’s the only “basic” issue you really need, though, there have been sonic upgrades since then.) The other is CD 1 of the multi-disc 2008, 50th Anniversary Edition (HERE), which adds session chatter and false starts.


Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud – Complete Recordings
Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées (Take 1) (2:29)
Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées (Take 2)
(5:27)
Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées (Take 3) Générique (2:56)
Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées (Take 4) Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées (3:03)
Assassinat (Take 1) Visit De Vigile (2:07)
Assassinat (Take 2) Julien Dans l’Ascenseur (2:15)
Assassinat (Take 3) L’Assassinat De Carala (2:13)
Motel (Diner Au Motel) (4:02)
Final (Take 1) (3:10)
Final (Take 2) (3:05)
Final (Take 3) Chez Le Photographe Du Motel (4:10)
Ascenseur (Evasion De Julien) (2:04)
Le Petit Bal (Take 1) (2:44)
Le Petit Bal (Take 2) – Au Bar Du Petit Bac (2:58)
Sequence Voiture (Take 1) (3:00)
Sequence Voiture (Take 2) (Sur l’Autoroute) (2:22)
Generique (2:51)
L’Assassinat De Carala (2:11)
Sur L’Autoroute (2:21)
Julien Dans l’Ascenseur (2:09)
Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées (2:53)
Diner Au Motel (3:59)
Évasion De Julien (0:55)
Visit Du Vigile (2:06)
Au Bar Du Petit Bac (2:55)
Chez Le Photographe Du Motel (3:56)


Kind Of Blue
So What (9:25)
Freddie Freeloader (9:49)
Blue In Green (5:38)
All Blues (11:36)
Flamenco Sketches (9:26)
Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take) (9:32) – BONUS TRACK




Kind Of Blue (50th Anniversary) (Disc 1)
So What (9:25)
Freddie Freeloader (9:49)
Blue In Green (5:38)
All Blues (11:36)
Flamenco Sketches (9:26)
Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take) (9:34)
Freddie Freeloader (Studio Sequence 1) (0:53)
Freddie Freeloader (False Start) (1:28)
Freddie Freeloader (Studio Sequence 2) (Previously Unreleased) (1:31)
So What (Studio Sequence 1) (Previously Unreleased) (1:56)
So What (Studio Sequence 2) (Previously Unreleased) (0:14)
Blue In Green (Studio Sequence) (Previously Unreleased) (1:59)
Flamenco Sketches (Studio Sequence 1) (Previously Unreleased) (0:45)
Flamenco Sketches (Studio Sequence 2) (Previously Unreleased) (1:13)
All Blues (Studio Sequence) (Previously Unreleased) (0:19)

 

9 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    May 26, 2011 - 08:11 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    Kwai Chang
    April 12, 2012 - 17:22 | Permalink

    Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud…man, what a great record.
    Smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooth!!!

  • 3
    Ace K
    July 23, 2012 - 08:17 | Permalink

    If, like me, you love “Kind of Blue” and have been looking for the record most like it (I know a conservative approach, but sometimes even us music nuts just want more of the same), the closest I have ever found is Ascenseur. Now, it’s not AS good (what is?) but it’s got the same general tone and sound.

    Check it out.

    Ace

  • 4
    courtney
    July 24, 2012 - 16:52 | Permalink

    These two LPs are instructive as per the maestro’s evolution as a player and leader…but, mostly, they’re damn fine music. Thanks for this!

  • 5
    Kwai Chang
    July 24, 2012 - 20:47 | Permalink

    @Ace K…
    @courtney…
    These albums go together…I love them both. The music is the greatest. I can’t believe I never knew of them before Willard. Classics from the classic…
    Thanks, everyone!

  • 6
    Supersonic75
    November 18, 2013 - 22:34 | Permalink

    Thanks much for the soundtrack…I’ve always loved that record (in its original form as half of “Jazz Track” and in the much better version here). Maybe because when I “discovered” it many years ago I was in a heavy Miles phase but that record was not really part of his major canon…but SO good; fantastic atmosphere, but you already know all that….
    Thanks again, Willard. Been flipping through your Archives while doing work at home.

    • 7
      Willard
      November 18, 2013 - 23:38 | Permalink

      I can see… thanks Super.

  • 8
    Dan
    February 21, 2014 - 20:26 | Permalink

    Hiya,

    So glad to find this soundtrack in your beautiful, tear-inducing archives. Thank you.

    For the record, that is a Louis Malle movie, known in the anglophonic realm as _Elevator to the Gallows_, and it is definitely worth watching; repeatedly even.

  • 9
    mahogma
    April 17, 2014 - 00:32 | Permalink

    First, thank you so much for all you do, Willard. I love music. All kinds of music,from all sorts of genres and time periods. But regarding Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” I have to agree with you. I doesn’t get any better than this.

    Peace

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