John Coltrane: Giant Steps

Coltrane's edge of the future set, pushing functional harmony to the extreme, is reincarnated on high-grade blue vinyl


When first reviewed by Ralph J Gleason in Downbeat, this classic Coltrane album received five stars and acquired the distinction of being described as “one of the important ones”. This is backed up here in Brian Morton’s short but telling sleeve note where his final comment reads “This is one of the great modern records.”

For this album, originally released on Atlantic (SD-1311), Coltrane found himself in a far more productive environment than the one he had experienced whilst recording for Prestige, where preparation was virtually non-existent. Hence, his recordings under the label’s stewardship had a more professional and polished presentation.

The saxophonist is a dominating presence throughout, the command of his instrument obvious, the power and confidence something to behold, with just a suggestion of edgier things to come. All the tunes were Coltrane originals, many of which were destined to be revisited by countless musicians in the decades to come – the beautiful Naima probably being the most instantly recognisable.

This latest vinyl incarnation is issued on 180gm blue vinyl, with Harmonique added as an extra track.

(1) Giant Steps; Cousin Mary; (2) Countdown; Spiral; (1) Syeeda’s Song Flute; (3) Naima; (1) Mr. P.C.; (3) Harmonique (41.53)
(1) John Coltrane (ts); Tommy Flanagan (p); Paul Chambers (b); Art Taylor (d). New York, 5 May 1959.
(2) as (1) but 4 May.
(3) as (1) but omit Flanagan and Taylor, add Wynton Kelly (p); Jimmy Cobb (d). New York 2 December 1959.
20th Century Masterworks 350242