20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coltrane�s first solo masterpiece
Giant Steps was possibly the most consistently outstanding tenor solo statement since Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus. Of course, Coltrane's own performance on Kind of Blue, just a month or two before, is now legendary, but he had shared the glory with soloists of a similar calibre, and furthermore the present recording contained nothing but his own compositions. Here...
Published on 2 Jun 2001
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Back when jazz was just a wild mass of sound that I didn't understand, Giant Steps was the object I turned to for some sort of solace. It was the album I felt I could get my head around most from the genre, and finally hearing sax noises blaring from my speakers that didn't make me want to bury the CD in a far away forest was always a welcome sign of change. While the...
Published on 4 Oct 2007 by 77
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coltrane�s first solo masterpiece,
By A Customer
This review is from: GIANT STEPS (Audio CD)
Giant Steps was possibly the most consistently outstanding tenor solo statement since Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus. Of course, Coltrane's own performance on Kind of Blue, just a month or two before, is now legendary, but he had shared the glory with soloists of a similar calibre, and furthermore the present recording contained nothing but his own compositions. Here his phenomenal vision and technique shone with spellbinding power, framed exquisitely by the sheer authority of a superb rhythm section.
The title tune features a huge, assured performance from Coltrane, with Art Taylor providing densely argued rhythmic support. Only Tommy Flanagan appears to struggle with this intensity, but treats it with both affection and mastery 23 years later with the superlative tribute Giant Steps: In Memory of John Coltrane (Enja, 1982). On "Cousin Mary" Paul Chambers is on tremendous form, playing generous, confident bass behind Coltrane's swelling tenor. Less well-known, bordering on the unreal, is "Countdown", now more frequently recognised as a singular item in the jazz canon. It's blistering, exhausting and exhaustive, a swirling madness of harmonic and tonal exploration. Flanagan, more assured now, comps solidly behind Trane, helping him to build up to a final climax, in which contrary to convention, Trane states the theme. Rounding off the sound and accelerating the tempo almost imperceptibly, Paul Chambers enters seemingly without effort, helping to create an exhilarating tapestry reminiscent of Miles Davis' "Tune Up" on Cookin'. The rarely revisited "Spiral" has a wonderful, swinging pulse, and deserves to be better represented in subsequent musicians' tributes. "Syeeda's Song Flute" is a simple theme, tersely set up, demanding release. It provides the background for one of Trane's most eloquent and expressive solos on the album. Flanagan delivers, true to form, a solo of light, lucid transparency, not dissimilar in execution to the solos of the great Sonny Clark. "Naima" is the album's most emblematic piece, now firmly associated with John Coltrane as a defining composition - self-searching, built upon a melody so simple it can be reduced to two scales. This austerity, combined with a fervent inner zeal, are among the most distinctive characteristics of the Coltrane oeuvre.
Giant Steps ends with "Mr P.C." (for the bassist Paul Chambers), a massive, swelling blues, lifted from its primal essentials to an ethereal hymn-like height with a riveting melodic solo.
Giant Steps is an essential purchase.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking,
'Giant Steps' overturned many of the stereotypes I had about post-war (more specifically 1950's) jazz. From most of the movies I've seen from that era, jazz was wallpaper music, bland background to the cliches on the screen. Imagine how I felt when I first put on 'Giant Steps'. This is definitely not "easy-listening".
The energized melody of the title track bursts from the record in a relentless attack. The imagination of Coltrane's playing can best be heard on 'Cousin Mary' where he begins with swing before taking the melody on a world tour from the blues to the Far East. 'Countdown' sounds initially like uncomprimising free-jazz but there is a strong rhythm behind it that you can even snap your fingers to and there isn't a more delightful moment on the album than it's whistful ending. Coltrane's playing on the second version included here is even more astounding.
Coltrane takes us on another journey back and forth between jazz's past and future with 'Spiral', swaying between a swinging tempo and a halting, Eastern-thinged descent. It's emotional intensity is a staple of this remarkable album. On 'Syeeda's Song Flute' the master gives the other players a chance to shine with Tommy Flanagan's playing unthinkably cool and unrelenting at the same time. The track segues ponderously into 'Naima' where Flanagan again comes to the fore with some of his most personal playing, while the saxophone smoulders.
'Mr. PC' combines all the best of John Coltrane and the backing trio on this album. His heady mixture of old-time jazz, swing and his own intense improvisations conspire to deliver a hothouse performance with the other players driving hard behind him.
'Giant Steps' is an album that any serious music lover should have in their collection, artistic, cerebral and emotional all at the same time.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Frantic,
This is another excellent outing for John Coltrane, and although it was his first effort to consist entirely of his own compositions, it is far from a radical departure.
The band provide superb backup, especially Paul Chambers on bass, who lends his initials to one of the best tracks, "Mr PC". My favourite, however, is "Syeeda's Song Flute" purely for the relaxed sync-ops riff Coltrane uses at the beginning of the track. Those who prefer Coltane's frantic soloing will not be disappointed - "Countdown" is outrageously fast.
Overall, a solid album, which is great fun to listen to. A good intro to John Coltrane.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome - a jazz classic,
By A Customer
This is the record that put Coltrane up onto the pedestal from which he cast a shadow over every tenor player of his generation.
It bursts with power and energy, combining Coltrane's frightening technique and the searing, crying intensity of his tenor sound, propelled forwards by a driving rythmn section featuring excellent work from pianist Tommy Flanagan.
It's not all full-speed ahead, though, as "Naima" is a delicate, gentle masterpiece.
For those coming to this record from a more bluesy/soul-jazz angle, you might try "Blue Train" first. Alternatively, if you want to hear that beatiful saxophone sound in all its tender glory, try the "Ballads" album. Coltrane, of course, also appeared on the legendary Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue", which is a must for every jazz record collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giant Steps - Atlantic Masters with alternate takes and alternate versions,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is about the 2002 Atlantic Masters version with 8 bonus tracks of Giant Steps by John Coltrane, album originally released in January 1960. The bonus tracks are 4 alternate takes (alternative recordings of the pieces included in the original album and performed by the same lineup) and 4 alternate versions (alternative recordings of the pieces included in the original album but performed by a different lineup). Here are more details:
Recordings March 26, 1959
John Coltrane (tenor sax), Cedar Walton (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Lex Humphries (drums)
Giant Steps (alternate version 1)
Naima (alternate version 1)
Giant Steps (alternate version 2)
Naima (alternate version 2)
Recordings May 4 and 5, 1959
John Coltrane (tenor sax), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Art Taylor (drums)
Giant Steps (original album)
Cousin Mary (original album)
Countdown (original album)
Spiral (original album)
Syeeda's Song Flute (original album)
Mr. P.C. (original album)
Cousin Mary (alternate take)
Countdown (alternate take)
Syeeda's Song Flute (alternate take)
Giant Steps (alternate take)
Recordings December 2, 1959
John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums)
Naima (original album)
Observe that the March sessions were not used in the album, Giant Steps and the other compositions (except Naima) were re-recorded in May changing pianist and drummer. Nearly seven months later Naima was re-recorded for the third time with the rhythm section from Miles Davis Kind of Blue (Kelly, Chambers, Cobb). So what you have in this Atlantic Masters version is the possibility to live the history that lead to the final album version of Giant Steps. Plus you can fully enjoy a very good and natural re-mastered sound, much better than the previous CD release.
A totally worth upgrade if you have the older CD releases and a must if you love jazz and still do not have this masterpiece.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolute genius!,
A reviewer cannily called this "be-bop x10". I have to add +1 to that statement, there's (unfortunately) only ever been the one John Coltrane-nobody but nobody ever, regardless of instrument or genre has ever showed such complete mastery of their instrument in a "solo" context. Miles (in jazz circles) is ultimately & rightfully known to be the master for manifold reasons but nobody, even bird, coleman hawkins, sonny, diz or the master himself has ever displayed virtuosity quite like "trane".
This album marks the peak of this man's recorded prowess, yes, a love supreme is truly a supreme recording but for me, actually serves as a bookmark that pairs with this record. giant steps marks the beginning of coltrane's absolute peak of perfection & the impulse recording serves as the last truly great statement made by the man.
What an incredible couple of months april & may of 1959 turned out to be in the history of music! "trane" revolutionising, indeed re-inventing what could be done with an instrument as a solo voice with miles on kinda blue as miles turned jazz on it's head & then putting the pedal to the metal & blowing away everybody who thought they could still stun with ultra fast, slick be-bop principles despite miles having just provided an alternative expression, by making this album!
If you consider yourself a virtuoso on your instrument then you must have studied this album, if you're a discerning music listener please don't be put off because the melodies are strong, the grooves are hypnotic, the band are empathetic & inspired & you shouldn't believe the older reviewers who call it difficult listening.
If you appreciate great music & don't possess this album, whatever your taste, open your mind NOW.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giant sound,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Most Coltrane fans eulogise about 'A Love Supreme' or 'Blue Train' and rightly so, as they are superb. However, being relatively new to John Coltrane's work (at least in trms of owning the albums), I was very pleasantly surprised by this album which is very rounded and is accessible to anyone wanting to develop a further interest in John Coltrane's work.
I own several of John Coltrane's albums, but for now at least, this is my favourite.
5.0 out of 5 stars Relentless Coltrane,
This review is from: Giant Steps - Mini [VINYL] (Audio CD)
That is what Coltrane is on the title track of this album. At what is already a ferocious tempo Coltrane kicks into his first solo playing a double time solo where it seems every chord change has every possible note combination played. I was absolutely astonished when I first heard this. Ira Gitler used the term 'Sheets of Sound' to describe Coltrane's playing, and I'm sure it was this title track that gave him the idea. However don't misunderstand this album. This isn't the Coltrane of the mid 1960's onwards, where I do struggle to keep up with his more avant-garde playing.
The tunes on this album are very strong. 'Naima' is a beautiful slow number that hints at the ballads record he would record a year or two later. The vastly under-rated Wynton Kelly is the only musician to play a solo on this track. Its both lyrical and subtle and leads back to Coltranes repeated theme statement. 'Mr. P.C.' is a simple minor blues that belts along. Again though unless you are die-hard traditionalist there is nothing on this track that could be considered 'difficult'.
The other musicians are:
Lex Humphries, Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb - Drums
Paul Chambers - Bass
Cedar Walton, Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly - Piano
This is essential for any Jazz collection.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, early Coltrane,
This is a justly famous CD by Coltrane and features some of his most reknown compositions such as the title track, "Mr. P.C", "Countdown" and the beautiful ballad "Niama". However, there are a few other lesser known items included on the disc that are worthy of mention. "Syeeda's song flute " illustrates the influence of Thelonious Monk and is, perhaps, the closest Coltrane came to recording a light-hearted composition. On the other hand, there is the sadly neglected number "Spiral" that never seemed to make the "jazz standard" reportoire even though I believe this to be one of his finest tunes from this era.
Whilst Coltrane had further to develop, this is a fascinating recording in the you can literally hear the confines of hard bop creaking as the saxophonist pushes at the boundaries of jazz. Pianist Tommy Flanagan, one of the very finest of his generation, can be envisaged literally hanging on as the music builds up momentum. My biggest criticism is that a very poor quality piano was used for the session and Flanagan's solos almost sound like they are being played on a marimba. Luckily, the saxophonist dominates proceedings and this is not too great an issue, even though a studio would not get away with letting a respected musician playing such a duff instrument today.
Although "Crescent" and the album with Ellington remain my favourite efforts by John Coltrane, this is an essential purchase. Needless to say, every record collection should not be without this disc.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing out of place, but it takes you there,
This review is from: Giant Steps [VINYL] (Vinyl)
I listened to this album in an old terraced garden in France. The village beyond the wall was still, the dog lay contemplating men at my feet, and autumn was touching up the trees in the breeze. Life, being perfect, swelled and held on in the grooves of Coltrane's Giant Steps.
I could not ask for more.
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