Through both the force of his music and his personal character, saxophonist John Coltrane remains among the most influential jazz artists of all time. After a stint with the classic Miles Davis band of the late 1950s, the tenor titan embarked on a decade of staggering creativity. With the daunting GIANT STEPS, he exploded the possibilities of post-bop harmony; subsequently, he formed his "classic quartet" with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones--the ideal group for Coltrane's ever-expanding sonic vocabulary. As the '60s progressed, he also added the soprano sax to the mix and explored the use of modes, before finally moving on to the inspired free playing on records such as ASCENSION and INTERSTELLAR SPACE in his last years.
DISC 1 for Giant Steps (CD) Album
By John Coltrane
Released in January 1960, John Coltrane's first album devoted entirely to his own compositions confirmed his towering command of tenor saxophone and his emerging power as a composer. Apprenticeships with Dizzy, Miles, and Monk had helped focus his furious, expansive solos, and his stamina and underlying sense of harmonic adventure brought Coltrane, at 33, to a new cusp--the polytonal "sheets of sound" that distinguished his marathon solos were offset by interludes of subtle, concise lyricism, embodied here in the tender "Naima." That classic ballad is a calm refuge from the ecstatic, high-speed runs that spark the set's up-tempo climaxes, which begin with the opening title song, itself a cornerstone of modern jazz composition. This exemplary reissue benefits from eight alternate takes of the original album's seven stellar tracks, excellent remastering of the original tapes, and an expanded annotation. --Sam Sutherland
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