#232: Giant Steps, John Coltrane
When I first heard this record back in April, the only note I wrote to myself was that I “got sick of all the horns.” That’s proof that first impressions are nearly always wrong. The horns are the best part, because the horns are all John Coltrane.
Unlike A Love Supreme (#66), this album isn’t a four-part jazz opera. Giant Steps ranges from short and speedy tracks like “Countdown” to truly slow meditations like “Naima.” (By the way, the delicate piano on that one is played by Wynton Kelly, a prodigy who became a professional pianist at age 12.)
My favorite might have been “Spiral,” which just does what the title proclaims to do: spiral downward with arpeggios and dark melodies. Of course, I loved “Mr. P.C.” too, one of two songs that refers to Coltrane’s double bassist, Paul Chambers. (“Giant Steps” is also reportedly about him.) While some of these sound truly improvisational, the final track has a distinctive note progression at the end of each phrase that actually had me humming along.
As a jazz novice, some of them did blend together, even though I was thoroughly enjoying them. “Cousin Mary” is a classic, at least according to the RS blurb, but when I try to call it up in my mind, I can’t. All I remember about “Syeeda’s Song Flute” is that there was no freaking flute, and I was angry about it.
I spent a day listening to Giant Steps on repeat. At first all those sheets of sound gave me a headache, but after my third or fourth listen, I started to feel more focused, and even a bit grateful. I loved living in this jazzy world.
Connection to The Simpsons: Lisa! She has a cat named after Coltrane.
IS RS FULL OF IT? In this case, no. I still feel like A Love Supreme is the superior record. That one made me feel things.