Giant Steps

Four minutes and forty-nine seconds of rip-roaring Jazz genius. John Coltrane blowing molten gold with his Saxophone over a rumble-tumble rhythm and sweet tiny-tinkling piano playing start-stop. Bop.

Characterized by an extremely rapid progression of chord changes between a long drawn out chorus (the “giant steps”), Coltrane blows the doors off of Jazz convention by his manic improvisation in following a cycle of Major Thirds, in contrast to the traditional back-cycling of Fifths.

The chordal development progresses so quickly that Coltrane is forced to arpeggiate up and down the scales with very little time nor room for ornamentation – which, though somewhat limiting the overall complexity of the piece, allows the individual notes to meld and bleed into each other for a powerful ambient effect.

Every time I listen to it, I hear something different and my mind is filled with vast disparate imagery. Everything from the hustle-bustle of downtown Chicago nightlife, to the open expanse of the Arabian Desert…


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