Louis Malle, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, 1958 (Music by Miles Davis)
Malle was already a jazz fan when Jean-Claude Rappeneau suggested to him that Miles, who was in the France for a brief tour, be asked to record the soundtrack; he readily agreed. By creating a relaxed environment in the studio, where the musicians could view main scenes of the film in a loop and then improvise in response to what they saw, Malle clearly understood that little direction was necessary to Miles.
And Miles, with a sympathetic band, including saxophonist Barney Wilen, pianist Ren’ Urtreger, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Kenny Clarke, was able to create music with his typical minimal guidance. In fact, with the exception of “Sur l’autoroute,” which was based on the chords to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” Miles provided only the barest sketches of direction. Malle also provided some input, suggesting, for example, a passage of only bass and drums, which was ultimately not used; he also decided, in the final analysis, which takes would be used as final takes.
The whole session took a mere four hours, but the music is magical (…)
–John Kelman in All About Jazz