John Coltrane - Giant Steps
Aug 7, 2022
90
“Over all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe... that Is what I would like to do. I think that Is one of the greatest things you can do in life and we all try to do it in some way. The musician is through his music.”
-John Coltrane

The reason I start my reviews with quotes from the musician is to give the reader some insight into their mind, as with releases like these, there aren't any lyrics in the work to do that. John Coltrane had a brilliant mind, and his work is my favorite in all of jazz, which is why I am reviewing another one of his records. If I could, I would probably review every single Coltrane album, but I don't want to bore you all. I find his compositional techniques to be some of the most interesting, addicting, and legendary. His work is very recognizable, immersive, and always up to par. He is easily one of the most consistent artists in all of music. I've also read the most about him, as I find his life fascinating, especially the amount of work and effort he had to put in to get himself to where he eventually got.
I recommend the documentary "Chasing Trane" which was released in 2016. It's not the best watch, but the information is true and valuable, and there is much to be learned from it.
Even though "Giant Steps" is a bit more complex than the work he had done beforehand, I still think it could make for a pretty good introduction to jazz. The songs aren't long, have some very catchy melodies, are memorable, have a soft sound, and are fairly satisfying. Though I can understand confusion with some of the chord progressions, as these tracks are anything but simple, and feature some of his earliest "explorations into third-related chord movements that came to be known as Coltrane changes." Even to an untrained ear, there is something obviously special about the playing in this record that makes it very unique. This is especially apparent on the title track.

"Giant Steps" was recorded only shortly after Coltrane's sessions with Miles Davis on the Kind of Blue record in 1959. It marks his first album as a leader for Atlantic Records, a label he would release much of his best work under (such as My Favorite Things and Olé, both of which I may review one day). This album is considered one of the most influential jazz albums of all time, and it is very easy to see why. Many tracks on the album have become jazz standards, such as the title track and "Naima" which is one of Coltrane's most popular songs. The songs on this record have also been used extensively as templates to practice for saxophonists. The album attained gold status, selling over 500,000 copies - making it one of Coltrane's best-selling records. Giant Steps has been a massive inspiration for many musicians and influenced an uncountable amount of records, making its way into the National Recording Registry as one of fifty records chosen by the Library of Congress. This is truly only the beginning of the acclaim and interest Giant Steps has received.
A nice fun fact about the record is that many tracks are named after people who Coltrane valued. Naima is named after his wife at the time, Syeeda's Song Flute is named after Naima's daughter, Mr. P.C. is named after the legendary bassist Paul Chambers, and Cousin Mary is named in honor of Mary Lyerly, Coltrane's younger cousin.

Speaking of Paul Chambers, let's discuss the lineup. The great Coltrane is on tenor saxophone, of course, and the brilliant Paul Chambers accompanies him on bass. Tommy Flanagan, who had previously worked with Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and more, is on piano. Flanagan was an utterly incredible pianist, truly one of the greatest of the time, and even he struggled with keeping up on this record. Finally, Art Taylor is on drums. This is easily one of Taylor's best performances, as he keeps up very well and helps set the quick pace for much of the record. The only time the lineup switches is on the track "Naima" which has Wynton Kelly on piano and Jimmy Cobb on drums. The reason for this change is that this song was recorded at a different time than the rest of the album with the rhythm section from the Miles Davis Quintet. All of these musicians gave the most effort they could, and it is very evident in the music.

"Giant Steps" is one of my most listened-to albums of all time. It is my definitely most listened-to jazz album, at about 2,000 plays on Last.FM over multiple versions. I also own the vinyl which I spin quite often. This album is beautifully refined, perfect for any moment, and never gets even slightly old. The quality of the recording is so great that it sounds as though it is from the future, and the performance is completely timeless. I've heard the title track over 500 times, and yet every single time I hear it, it sounds brand new. Coltrane's unique technicalities make this album, and every song on it, extremely memorable, special, unique, and impressive. I love the quick hard bop style much of the record goes for, and when it slows down toward the end, it feels calming and understandable. The flow of this album is incredible, and it feels very smooth.
My favorite tracks are probably "Giant Steps" "Cousin Mary" and "Spiral" though every song is great in its own way. Thank you, John Coltrane.

Daily Jazz Review #8 complete! 🎷🎺🥁❤️ Recently I found out that I am currently #1 on popular users, and 4/5 of the most popular reviews on the website are mine. I cannot possibly thank you all enough, and I am incredibly grateful that these reviews and important albums are being appreciated. <3

Track Ratings
1Giant Steps / 100
2Cousin Mary / 100
3Countdown / 100
4Spiral / 100
5Syeeda's Song Flute / 100
6Naima / 100
7Mr. P.C. / 100
2 Comments
1mo
Oh yeah, you had recommended me this album as well. I'll check it out! And great job on all these reviews, you're absolutely killing it!
1mo
@mike_drop
Thank you very much! Hope you enjoy this one, it is definitely one of my favorites.
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