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Music / Giant Steps

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Giant Steps is John Coltrane's fifth studio album, released in 1960 through Atlantic Records. The iconic record is considered to be his breakthrough as a band leader and is famous for the title track and one of his signature songs: "Naima". The album was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2004.


Side One:
  1. "Giant Steps" (4:43)
  2. "Cousin Mary" (5:45)
  3. "Countdown" (2:21)
  4. "Spiral" (5:56)

Side Two:

  1. "Syeeda's Song Flute" (7:00)
  2. "Naima" (4:21)
  3. "Mr. P.C." (6:57)


  • John Coltrane: tenor saxophone
  • Tommy Flanagan: piano
  • Wynton Kelly: piano (on "Naima")
  • Paul Chambers: bass
  • Art Taylor: drums
  • Jimmy Cobb: drums (on "Naima")

Giant Tropes:

  • Face on the Cover: Coltrane's face in close-up.
  • Final Boss: Many jazz musicians regard the title track as this for mainstream jazz in general; its chord changes come so thick and fast, and it modulates to a new key so rapidly and often, that on the original recording, you can clearly hear that the only musician who's completely mastered the tune is Coltrane himself. His pianist, the great Tommy Flanagan, is audibly struggling (although he went on to make a superb recording of it years later.) Any jazz musician who can improvise fluently over "Giant Steps" is a major badass.
    • It should be noted that Coltrane had a proud tradition of not showing his musicians the chord changes until shortly before recording, and "Giant Steps" was no exception. This makes the original recording a case of Enforced Method Acting, and it just makes his band even greater badasses for being able to play it.invoked
  • Hitler Cam: The album cover shows Coltrane playing saxophone, shot from a lower angle.
  • Instrumental: All tracks are instrumental.
  • Meaningful Name: The album was indeed a giant step for Coltrane, as it broke him to the mainstream.
  • One-Man Song: "Mr. P.C.", named for Coltrane's longtime bassist Paul Chambers.
  • One-Woman Song: "Cousin Mary" and "Naima" are respectively named after Coltrane's cousin and his then-wife Juanita Naima Grubbs. "Syeeda's Song Flute" is named after Naima's daughter, whom Coltrane adopted.
  • One-Word Title: "Countdown", "Spiral", "Naima".
  • Record Producer: Nesuhi Ertegün.
  • Title Track: "Giant Steps".