While the world of popular music drifted and stuttered a bit heading into the 1960s, jazz music continued to reach new heights and offer new extensions from the masters of the age. On today’s discovery, we explore “Giant Steps” by master saxophonist John Coltrane, a previous featured artist on several pieces to include the last Miles Davis album we discussed. This album is rated as the #2 jazz album of all time by gq.com.
Listening to this album is another sizable step forward in format and sound from even the remarkable work Davis performed on “Kind of Blue”, just one year before. On the first three tracks in particular, the rhythm and lead sounds are much more frenetic, and less predictable in sound and style. As a jazz neophyte, I envision this being received with wide open arms as the jazz community looked to further explore musical boundaries and set new standards. Even at this hectic pace, on the song “Syeeda’s Song Flute”, I hear an odd similarity in melody to the Broadway standard “Lullabye of Broadway”. My favorite track from this album is “Naima”, which allows me or any listener an opportunity to sit back, lower the lights and embrace the soothing sounds of Coltrane’s sax blended with Wynton Kelly’s soft piano lead.
Coltrane was another critical fixture of the New York jazz legacy, and lived a life bounded by spiritual discovery and personal turmoil and struggle. Knowing that he and the other icons of his generation have more to offer on this evolution in coming releases, my curiosity remains piqued and I’m truly enjoying opening up to this undiscovered world of sound… at least, undiscovered by me.