Monday, August 13, 2007

No. 102: Giant Steps

Band: John Coltrane
Album: Giant Steps
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: John Coltrane is one of the jazz legends so very important that a lot of rock and roll fans know who he his. He transcends genre. "Giant Steps" is his final bebop record and, boy, is it amazing.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Again, my feelings about jazz records being on this list is well documented.
Best song: The opening solo in "Countdown" is really amazing.
Worst song: I'm not well-versed in jazz. I like all the songs, actually. None are particularly bad.
Is it awesome?: Yes.

I punted the "Bitches Brew" to someone who knows jazz, so I feel a little naked here. But, "Giant Steps" is a seminal bebop record in the same way "Kind of Blue" is the seminal "cool jazz" record.

What amazes me about Coltrane is how different he was. He played in a frantically melodic style. Like Jimi Hendrix (who was hugely influenced by Coltrane), no one played the same way after Coltrane came on the scene.

"Naima" is something of a standard and it doesn't disappoint. The slow melody and augmented chords make for a sweet love song that is tough to achieve in an instrumental song.

The name of the song "Giant Steps" (and the album, consequently) is a reference to the bass work of Paul Chambers. The song "Mr. P.C." is also named for Chambers.

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