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Giant Steps [VINYL]
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Original Jazz Sound: Giant Steps
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Vinyl, 14 Apr 2014
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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.
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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