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Giant Steps

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Audio CD, March 3, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Released in January 1960, John Coltrane's first album devoted entirely to his own compositions confirmed his towering command of tenor saxophone and his emerging power as a composer. Apprenticeships with Dizzy, Miles, and Monk had helped focus his furious, expansive solos, and his stamina and underlying sense of harmonic adventure brought Coltrane, at 33, to a new cusp--the polytonal "sheets of sound" that distinguished his marathon solos were offset by interludes of subtle, concise lyricism, embodied here in the tender "Naima." That classic ballad is a calm refuge from the ecstatic, high-speed runs that spark the set's up-tempo climaxes, which begin with the opening title song, itself a cornerstone of modern jazz composition. This exemplary reissue benefits from eight alternate takes of the original album's seven stellar tracks, excellent remastering of the original tapes, and an expanded annotation. --Sam Sutherland

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Giant Steps 4:43$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Cousin Mary 5:49$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Countdown 2:25$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Spiral 6:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Syeeda's Song Flute 7:05$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Naima 4:18$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Mr. P.C. 6:58$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Giant Steps (Alternate Version, Take 1, Incomplete) 3:44$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Naima (Alternate Version, Take 1, Incomplete) 4:32$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Cousin Mary (Alternate Take) 5:50$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Countdown 4:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen12. Syeeda's Song Flute (Alternate Take) 7:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. Giant Steps (Alternate Version, Take 2, False Start) 3:31$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen14. Naima (Alternate Version, Take 2, False Start) 3:27$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen15. Giant Steps (Alternate Take) 4:51$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 3, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atlantic
  • ASIN: B000003489
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,446 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Coltrane is clearly very fond of Chambers' playing, and they work off of each other brilliantly.
Joseph Dorne
While any fan of good jazz would love this album, it's still a great introduction to those new to jazz.
Christopher Calabrese
My opinion coltrane is on the two best jazz albums of all time Kind of Blue and this Giant Steps.
lil' rook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
It's understandable that many listeners may prefer to "Giant Steps" the more accessible earlier or later Trane. The former offers up his explorations within more familiar song forms; the latter makes the song secondary to the soloist's quest for a rapture beyond musical form altogether. "Giant Steps," on the other hand, is a musican's album. It set a new standard not only for saxophonists but all musicians, requiring a combination of harmonic knowledge and technical facility that sent numerous musicians back to the woodshed for countless hours of practice. Without this album, and especially the title song and "The Countdown," Coltrane's early work would have seemed short of realizing its potential, and his later work would have been open to increasing suspicion about his actual credentials. Like Armstrong's cadenza on "West End Blues" and Bird's break on "Night in Tunisia," "Giant Steps" turned heads and gave a generation of musicians a whole new understanding of what jazz improvisation was capable of producing.
For the more technically minded, Trane's revision of dominant-tonic harmony is more impressive than his later embracing of modes as the sole platform for his scales and upper register probings. Suggested by the challenging bridge of Rodgers and Hart's "Have You Met Miss Jones," the sequence moves through a cycle of descending major thirds which, in the hands of most musicians, feels awkward and unnatural. Coltrane not only mastered the sequence but learned how to use it as a substitution in conventional harmonic settings. More impressively, he learned to execute it with an agility and naturalness that makes it possible for the listener to ignore the harmonic underpinning entirely and be swept up by the wave of emotion and melodic inventiveness.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By T. Fuller Dean on April 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My purpose here is not to simply add more superlatives to this legendary album's justly proud reputation -- it's everything and more that has been written about it of a praiseworthy nature; and you'll find plenty of praise here in these reviews (see especially the insightful words from Samuel Chell). But there remains one rather 'technical', and curiously long-lived misconception about GIANT STEPS which, as a serious student of jazz and avid music collector, myself (I have virtually all of Coltrane's impressive recorded output), I have wanted to correct
for years -- a misunderstanding which, I hasten to add, in NO way diminishes the brilliance and stature of this pivotal milestone in Coltrane's prolific career.

The problem is this: over the years, repeated references (and you'll find some of them in these reviews) to this classic album's being the ultimate representation of Coltrane's famous
'sheets of sound' phase, or technique, are simply mistaken. The so-called 'sheets of sound' effect that so startled early Coltrane audiences, in fact, emerged in his late '50s albums for Prestige -- not yet fully developed in the '56-'57 sides with the early Miles Davis Quintet (not even on that groundbreaking group's final recording, Miles' first for Columbia, 'ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT), but very well documented, even dominating, in Coltrane's prolific late '57-'58 period on Prestige, where the best examples of his 'sheets of sound' are to be found.

Technically, 'Trane's much-touted 'sheets of sound' amounted to his simply (!) shifting into a 'higher gear', at slow-to-medium-fast tempos -- essentially, playing more 16th notes (i.e., 4 notes to every beat), instead of relying on the more typical
8th-note orientation (i.e.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mike Tarrani HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on May 6, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
This album marks a first for many reasons: first Coltrane recorded for Atlantic, first where all of the tracks are his compositions, and the first where his "sheets of sound" phrasing was prominent (it was not new, but came to the forefront with this album.) In a way, Coltrane is finally 'discovered' on this album because he is neither in the shadows of Miles, nor is he displaying his abilities on standards and compositions of others.

Everyone - every jazz aficionado and all musicians regardless of genre - should own this album. It broke new ground when it was released in January of 1960, and continues to this day to exert a major influence on musicians as well as listeners.

I could blather on about changes and progressions, but that does not describe the music to the non-musician listener who has every right to enjoy this album on its own merits without some snob implying that its too sophisticated. The samples on this page give a hint, but that should be all you need to make a purchase decision. For musicians I highly recommend augmenting with album with Giant Steps: A Player's Guide To Coltrane's Harmony for ALL Instrumentalists. For Everyone else, I recommend purchasing it without further thought.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Funkmeister G on January 26, 2001
Format: Audio CD
For too long I had listened to Miles & sort of avoided Coltrane's work, partly out of fear of overbearingly religious tones. I should have been slapped around, but eventually I knew I must get some of it, within the same week I bought The Avant-Garde [w/ Don Cherry] & Giant Steps. This is such a phenomenally brilliant & beautiful album & I am content to play it everyday, & the alternate of 5 of the 7 tunes don't sound like repetition. Someone said about the breakthru of the opening title track & then said it was unemotional, whilst I'm unfamilar w/ his earlier work, I do not belive Giant Steps to be a cold piece for intellectuals & musicians only, it breathes freely & soulfully & the band plays very smoothly, Paul Chambers on bass, Tommy Flanagan on piano [Cedar Walton & Wynton Kelly feature on some other tunes instead] & Art Taylor on drums [replaced by Jimmy Cobb & Lex Humphries on others]. Many of the songs here are named for his friends, Naima for his 1st wife [pre-Alice], the central ballad of the album & 1 of the main tunes throughout his career, Syeeda' Song Flute for his daughter, a sort of funny & childlike tune that of course gets more mature as it goes along, Cosuin Mary [sel-explanatory], & Mr P.C., a showcase for Paul Chambers. The shortest song & 1 that's I'm particularly fons of is Countdown features a big drum solo intro & then otherwordly loud-but-not-noisy tenor sax action galore, @ the right vloume it can really get you moving, the following Spiral is similarly great. My edition features a foldout 10" reproduction of the original back cover which is better than the 1 page 5" facsimiles so common in these reissues w/ everything retyped & doubled-up.Read more ›
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