Giant Steps

John Coltrane

Giant Steps

Giant Steps

John Coltrane, tenor sax; Tommy Flanagan, piano;
Paul Chambers, bass; Art Taylor, drums.

1. Giant Steps (John Coltrane) 4:43
2. Cousin Mary (John Coltrane) 5:45
3. Countdown (John Coltrane) 2:21
4. Spiral (John Coltrane) 5:56
5. Syeeda's Song Flute (John Coltrane) 7:00
6. Namia (John Coltrane) 4:21
7. Mr. P.C. (John Coltrane) 6:57
Cover Design by MARVIN ISRAEL
Recording by TOM DOWD
Recorded on May 4, 1959

Along with Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane has become the most influential and controversial tenor saxophonist in modern jazz. This is the first set composed entirely of originals.

Of the tunes, Coltrane says "Giant Steps" gets its name from the fact that "the bass line is kind of a loping one. It goes from minor thirds to fourths, kind of a lop-sided pattern in contrast to moving strictly in fourths or in half-steps." Tommy Flanagan's relatively spare solo and the way it uses space as part of its structure is an effective contrast to Coltrane's intensely croweded chorus.

"Cousin Mary" is named for a cousin of Coltrane. The song is an attempt to describe her. "She's a very earthy, folksy, swinging person. The firgure is riff-like and although the changes are not conventional blues progressions, I tried to retain the flavor of the blues."

"Countdown's" changes are based in large part on "Tune Up," but over Art Taylor's drums, Coltrane uses essentially the same sequences of minor thirds to fourths that characterizes "Giant Steps."

"Syeeda's Song Flute" has a particularly attractive line and is named for Coltrane's 10-year old daughter. "When I ran across it on the piano," he says, "It reminded me of her because it sounded like a happy, child's song."

The tender "Namia"--an Arabic name--is also the name of John's wife. Here again is demonstrated Coltrane's more than ordinary melodical imagination as a composer and the deeply emotional strength of all his work, writing and playing.

"Mr. P.C." is Paul Chambers who provides escellent support and thoughtful solos on the record as a whole and whom Coltrane regards as "one of the greatest bass players in jazz. His playing is beyond what I could say about it. I feel very fortunate to have had him on this date and to have been able to work with him in Miles' band so long."

What makes Coltrane one of the most interesting jazz players is that he's not apt to ever stop looking for ways to perfect what he's already developed and also to go beyond what he knows he can do. He is thoroughly involved with plunging as far into himself and the expressive possibilities of his horn as he can.

--NAT HENTOFF, from the liner notes.

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