Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
on 4 October 2007
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 title track and "Naima", a ballad composed for his wife, always seemed to be the picks for greatness from the jazz crowd, I was more drawn to "Spiral"; the opening melody takes the title literally, as it constantly curves downwards into a pit of jolted piano and drums, the latter of which has a lethargic swagger that I found completely captivating. Oh, and "Countdown" is just a crazed exhibition of skill, going from scattered rhythm to 100mph playing to undiluted melody all within two minutes. I can't say I understand why it's seen as the weakest cut on this record.
It wasn't the first jazz album I truly loved (that honour would have to go to the most overlooked masterpiece in the Mingus back catalogue: Pithecanthropus Erectus) but it was definitely one that I admired greatly, and I'll be forever in its debt for allowing me to edge closer to this new music world. I kept going; running past classic after classic until I managed to find myself a decent foothold in the genre. Ironically, this came in the form of free jazz, the artform at its most maddening and structureless.
Returning to Giant Steps after many months of Sun Ra, Charles Tyler and Pharoah Sanders, I find that it washes over me way more than it used to. More importantly, way more than I want it to. Man, it's still a technical tour de force, don`t get me wrong; some would argue that he never retained the hunger in his playing that he showed here, but I'm always gonna reach for Ascension when I want my monthly hit of Trane.
I guess I just find comfort in chaos.