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Martin Shaw Quintet: Live at the 606 Club in London

Review of British trumpeter doing salute to Miles Davis' soundtrack to Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows

Martin Shaw

After Louis Malle had finished shooting his film noir classic Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (or, in English, Elevator to the Gallows) in 1958, he happened to find Miles Davis passing through France. On a whim, he asked Miles to compose a score for the film; instead Miles and his European quintet spent a night watching it, while improvising what would become one of the most identifiably melancholic jazz soundtracks ever.

It might seem a bit self-defeating, then, to try to recreate in a live setting the spontaneous emotion that led to that recording. After all, it’s tough to balance film and sound in a studio; it’s even tougher in a small club with a six-foot projector screen. But the Martin Shaw Quintet did just that on Monday night at London’s 606 Club, as part of the London Jazz Festival-and, along with doing an impressive Miles impression, the group brought some interesting perspectives to the score’s simple, timelessly cool framework.

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