For the past several days I have been trying to learn Giant Steps by, John Coltrane. It is probably his most famous tune. It was revolutionary as far as I’m concerned. It came out in 1960. All the years I have been playing I have never attempted to learn it. It was too much of a challenge. But I’m done being afraid of it.
The chord progression happens so damned quickly you can barely keep up, even with slow tempos. I have a recording of this song, and when it was the piano player’s turn to have a go at the progression he nearly chokes. I will share it with you at the end of this post. The song is held as one of the highest challenges for musisicians and, especially horn players; sax players in particular.
John Coltrane was a trend setter. He pioneered the use of modal playing. John Coltrane was at the forefront of free jazz. In my opinion, he is the father of modern jazz improvisation. Michael Brecker, held as one of the best saxophonists in the world, was extremely influenced by Coltrane, as were many, many modern-day saxophonists. For the longest time, I didn’t really understand his music. I’m only beginning to understand now.
I have also become a fan of Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s second son with Alice Coltrane. I would say he has taken what his father was doing and improved upon it. He is another player that I struggle to understand. I love the music and realize that it is mostly improvisation, but I don’t understand how it is held together. It is truly mind-blowing.
So without any more babbling, here is a recording of John Coltrane’s, Giant Steps. Don’t be afraid.