5 for Friday: 5 Soundtracks to Famous Movies by Jazz Musicians

Busy this week, so here’s a quick one. As the title says, here are some soundtracks by jazzers.

1. Miles Davis, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud  (1958)

During a trip to France in 1957, Miles found the time to recruit some local talent and record the cues for Louis Malle’s seminal French New Wave film. Released as Lift to the Gallows in the UK and Elevator to the Gallows in the States. Great film!

Soundtrack album: Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Fontana 660.213)

2. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Des femmes disparaissent (1959)

Recorded during a tour of France just seven weeks after Moanin’ (BLP 4003) session, the French New Wave gets another dose of modern jazz. Known as The Road to Shame in America.

Soundtrack album: Des femmes disparaissent, Fontana 660.224

3. Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn, Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Otto Preminger courtroom drama enters the Dukedom.

Soundtrack album: Anatomy of a Murder, Columbia CL 1360

4. Chico Hamilton, Repulsion (1965)

Drummer Chico Hamilton’s score lends an erudite vibe to Catherine Deneuve’s stroll through London in Roman Polanski’s artsy-psycho-murderfest. This film must surely have horrified cinema goers in 1965, with its shocking (for its time) violence.

Sadly, no official soundtrack album appears to have been produced, although a CD containing cues from The Sweet Smell of Success and Repulsion was released in 2008. And there is a Japanese 7″ of the main theme.

5. Herbie Hancock, Death Wish (1974)

It is hard to imagine Death Wish without its uber-funky soundtrack performed by Hancock’s band, The Headhunters. With a mix of orchestral cues and state-of-the-art funky fusion, the music is raw and unsparing as it captures both the ugliness of Manhattan and the emotional hell with which Charles Bronson’s proto-vigilante wrestles.

Film buffs: Be on the lookout for both a 21 year-old Jeff Goldblum (“Freak #1”) in his first film role and a 25 year-old Christopher Guest in an early bit part as a police officer.

Soundtrack album: Death Wish (Original Soundtrack Recording), Columbia PC 33199


Do you have a favorite soundtrack by a jazz artist? Have you seen any of these? Thoughts? Let me know.

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