Giant Steps

With a hat tip to my old pal and fellow Power Station alumnus, engineer extraordinaire Larry Alexander, comes a mesmerizing animation of this John Coltrane classic, one of the high-water marks of Western civilization. Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass, Art Taylor, drums, and of course John Coltrane on tenor. If there is anything more sublime than music of this quality, I don’t know what it is. Heraclitus would have loved this one, by the way.

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  1. Kevin Kim says

    I’ve long wondered how jazz musicians come up with the names for their pieces (and their albums). Any insights?

    That was cool, by the way.


    Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    “Giant Steps” refers to the harmonic structure of the tune. It shifts repeatedly through several keys — with a seamless flow that would have made Bach proud — and the changes come at a blistering pace. It’s widely regarded as the most challenging tune ever written for the improviser, which makes Coltrane’s magnificent solo even more astonishing.

    Having recorded many, many jazz albums, I can tell you that coming up with titles is often the trickiest part for the artists. The tunes are frequently recorded under working titles like “Shuffle” or “B-Flat Rhythm Changes”, and there is sometimes an agonizing period toward the end of a project when everyone in the room, not excluding the guy from the deli who is dropping off sandwiches, is trying to come up with titles. I recall one record where we were seriously considering “Get This Stuff Off Of Me” and “Men of Jazz”.

    Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  3. Kevin Kim says

    I can come up with plenty of ideas… all of them too vulgar to be of use.

    But keep me in mind if you’re ever looking for a fucked-up album title.


    Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    One of my favorites: I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine, by the band Poison.

    Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink