Sam Records Reissues Miles Davis's "ascenseur pour l’échafaud" Soundtrack in its Original 10" Format

Best known to American Miles Davis fans as side one of the twelve inch Columbia Records LP release Jazz Track (CL1268), Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (“Elevator to the Scaffold”), the jazz soundtrack to the Louis Malle film was originally released in France in 1958 on the Fontana label as a 10” LP.

Miles Davis was in Paris playing the Club Saint-Germain as well as performing at the Olympia Theater. A chance meeting with director Malle who had just completed his first film, led to Miles agreeing to compose the soundtrack.

Following a private screening, Davis entered a Paris radio studio with French jazz musicians pianist René Urtreger, tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen, bassist Pierre Michelot (who is sensational here) and ex-pat drummer Kenny Clarke, and while watching the picture, the group improvised the music to the film’s key scenes.

The other side of Jazz Track is notable because it’s performed by the group that soon thereafter would produce Kind of Blue.

However, there is something more satisfying and historically complete to having a superbly reproduced version of the original document and that is what Sam Records provides in its commendably completist style that includes a laminated “fold-over” cover, outstanding cover photo reproduction and as a bonus, a black and whilte matte finish photo of Miles in Paris 1957 by Gérard Landau.

More importantly, the mono sonics on this evocative soundtrack, where your mind can almost accurately conjure up the “noir-ish” happenings on screen (involving, among other action, an illicit love affair and a murder), are transparent and precise. Young Miles’ sometimes forlorn, echo-y horn, especially, as well as Michelot’s bass, are presented in full, believable fidelity. Miles' solo on "Diner Au Motel" will knock your socks off or your dentures out.

The reissue producer doesn't specify who cut or from what, but listen and you'll not care. This is supreme late night, lights out listening. Highly recommended. (Available now at Acoustic Sounds, which is the label's American distributor.

Auric G's picture

I know you would rather deliver a sack full of DSD downloads, but I want some AAA vinyl, and you can add this to my list. lol.

Eskisi's picture

One night a few years ago we were heading to a party, driving up 6th Avenue through the West Village, in my restored convertible 1963 Pontiac LeMans. It was a clear spring night and neon lights of the cafes (and head shops) had a more beautiful halo than even the usual. Through the miraculously good sounding oval Uni-Q KEF speakers I had installed in what was once the air vents of the Pontiac, I was playing Ascenseur pour L'Echafaud. It was a perfect moment if there ever was one. Then my wife said, "Turn that thing off."

Well, we are divorced.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Sounds like my Dad and my sister. Some people simply don't hear music.

Martin's picture

The owner of SAM records says he cut all analog from the tape. No digital steps.

I have this reissue and it is great. Can only agree with the 10/10 ratings.

I have an original French Fontana and the Speakers Corner reissue from several years ago. The Speakers Corner is well worth getting because it has all the takes of all the tracks. As an added bonus, without the reverb that was later added.
Highly recommended.

ramseurrecords's picture

My son is a massive Miles Davis fan. He is sixteen years old. He has a part time job. He collects vinyl. With this price point I doubt he would splurge for this.

hg's picture

The record is available at Acoustic Sounds for $29.98 ( Coupled with the 10% off code that's a little over $26. Still expensive for a 10-inch record, especially for a 16-year-old working part-time, but better than $40!

ramseurrecords's picture

Yes. Still very expensive but this is heading in the right direction.

AnalogJ's picture

If you go to Sam Records' own website, this 10" costs less than the 12" LPs. Elusive Disc is pricing it the same as the 12" records. I'm glad that Acoustic Sounds is selling it for less, as it should be.

isaacrivera's picture

Used near-mint analog copies of this classic are even more expensive:

Perhaps you should gift it to your son... just sayin'

MikeC's picture

I have this. Just listened again after reading Mikey's review; which I agree with. Also have 2 Chet Baker and a Lester Young from SAM Records. Listening to the "Chet Baker Quartet" (Dick Twardzick on Piano) now - very nice. Really like the work SAM puts into these - quality product.

vogelzang's picture

Columbia/Sony recently reissued their Miles mono catalog cut from original tapes as Michael reported.

Included in this treasure trove of gorgeous, highly recommended releases is Jazz Track. Not sure whether this 10 inch outdoes the Sony release, but I can highly recommend the mono remaster of Jazz Track, especially at $20. You won't be disappointed

Martin's picture

Does anyone know if the Sony reissue of Jazz Track is all analog?

Michael Fremer's picture
Martin's picture

192/24 if lucky.
It's a real shame so few all analog reissues are done.

Paul Boudreau's picture

I've had several releases of this music for ages but I had no idea it had been improvised. Amazing!

kimi imacman's picture

...but listen and you'll not care.'' Just received my copy and the Sam Records hype sticker says ''LIMITED EDITION first ever 10'' facsimile reissue from the original tapes cut by ray Staff at Air Mastering. Pressed by Pallas in Germany''
Sounds wonderful, thanks for the tip. FYI there is a CD out which has all the session outtakes minus the added echo which is also a good listen too.

Kirby's picture

I could not find a copy of the Sam here in Canada. I already own the Sony mono Jazz Track and it's ok so I ordered a copy of the Speakers Corner reissue hoping for something a little better sounding. If I find a Sam I'll pick it up too, can't have too many copies of Miles!(gotta have eight copies or more of Kind of Blue)

andrewy333's picture

After lurking with immense pleasure upon everyone's insights for over 3 years, I'm excited to start chiming in. Love this community that MF has grown and supported. Okay, so:

Whilst waiting for the Sam 10" that you all have got me drooling for, I purchased the Music on Vinyl 12" 2-LP offering. $32 currently on Amz. Very likely 24-96 or 24-192.

I much prefer all-analog original pressings and early reissues (less tape coercivity entropy), but this double album sounds superb for the $.

LP1 presents the original release and LP2 the outtakes. LP2's reverb-free tracks are hair-raisingly good—clear, dynamic, and present vs. the molasses-thick reverb of the final release. Though Miles' artistry cuts through the "axle grease" on LP1.

Re: yet another option, the $16 Wax Time offering—that's a pubic domain "CD-mastered" label that I avoid like the plague after being burned once (Scorpio reincarnated?). MOV on the other hand has been a pretty decent B-list reissue source for me. Very good Nederland pressing plant QC (quiet, "hot," & defect free purchases for me so far) and no 16-44 masters. Here' what they say on their website:

"We use the best audio available to cut our records. We receive and use different kinds of masters: analogue tapes, original metal parts, lacquers cut from analogue tapes and high res digital files 192/96khz/24 bit. Music On Vinyl does not use CD's as masters."

Keep posting amigos, I eagerly await your insights! - A