Customer Review

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coltrane�s first solo masterpiece, 2 Jun 2001
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.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jun 2011 20:29:31 BDT
simon mack says:
good review - yes GS is a landmark lp . if Coltrane fans want to go further +more fervent form Coltrane - strongly recommend his work on Impulse Label such as "Africa/Brass", "Live at the Village Vanguard" + "The Coltrane story" that go deeper ever deeper.
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