Composer: John Coltrane
Publisher: Jowcol Music
CD: Giant Steps
1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation. All rights reserved.
Recording Date: May 4, 1959
Personnel: John Coltrane, tenor sax; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Art Taylor, drums.
Title: Giant Steps
Artist: John Coltrane
Type of Tune: hard bop
Tempo: 292 BPM
Key: Eb Major (modulates to several keys but ends in Eb major)
Form: 16 bar tune
Devices: many chord changes played at blistering speed
Scale(s): major, blues, pentatonic, melodic minor
Recurring Patterns: melody features a three note phrase that is repeated several times at the end of the form. Improvisation features manipulation of scaler patterns (e.g., 1235)
Developmental Techniques: change running
"Giant Steps" is harmonically advanced, innovative, and is one of the most challenging tunes in the standard jazz repertoire on which to improvise (being able to do so is considered a "right of passage" for up-and-coming young jazz players). It employs a chord progression that Coltrane had been using as a basis for many of his improvisations on standard tunes for several years before this recording. The chord progression is so unusual and moves so quickly that even Coltrane himself was forced to play prepared patterns several times during the course of his solo. Tommy Flanagan, one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, struggles with his improvisation to such a degree that eventually Coltrane reenters during his solo to relieve him (Flanagan, along with the rest of the band, were given the music just prior to recording). Incidentally, Flanagan subsequently recorded a trio album called "Giant Steps" (enja CD 4022-2) on which he redeems himself, demonstrating his expert ability at playing the tune.