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NOV
19
3 YEARS

Colin Firth Grooves to KCRW's Guest DJ Project With The White Stripes, Miles Davis and T Rex

The "King's Speech" star spotlights a song from the noir soundtrack to Louis Malle's "Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud."

The King's Speech star Colin Firth recently participated in KCRW's Guest DJ Project. In addition to tracks from the White Stripes, T Rex, Massive Attack and Abel Korzeniowski, Firth chose a piece called "Chez le Photographe du Motel" from a soundtrack Miles Davis recorded for a noir Louis Malle made in 1958.

Titled Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud -- or, Elevator to the Gallows in English -- the record is one of my favorites in any genre. I was introduced to it by a British guy I used to work with in a DC record store called Olsson's, and I still listen to it almost every night. The movie itself isn't great, though it has an intriguing set-up and some great French noir mood, but Miles' soundtrack is so evocative it doesn't need a movie.

Here's what Firth had to say about why he chose it for his set on KCRW:

"I’m not a big be-bop fan, but this late night mode is irresistible ... It’s a perfect piece of noir. And I just happened to hear it in the back of a cab on a rainy night in London. And was sold right there. Suddenly I was actually in Paris, you know? And it’s also about the loneliest sound I think an instrument can make, when doing this particular track, actually a lot of tracks off this album. I do think that Kind of Blue is one of the best things that has ever been recorded. So, I’m not picking this because I think it trumps any of that, its just that it hit me in a certain moment. I had a condo in Malibu overlooking the ocean and I was told by the neighbors that Miles Davis lived nearby, and that he used to play out on the balcony at night. It’s not something the neighbors would have complained about the noise for, I wouldn’t have thought. And I used to go out and imagine him doing that. And it was such a poetic idea, this lonely sound coming out while you’re looking over the ocean at night. And this would be the piece that I would envision."

The version of the album that I have has over a dozen outtakes from the sessions as well, and you can spend more than an hour drifting through its late-night urban melancholy and menace. The movie's fun, too, and stars Jeanne Moreau as the femme fatale in her first role.

Here's Firth's KCRW session, if you want to give it a listen.