Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Killer Opening Songs (Giant Steps by John Coltrane)
Intensity, high-tempo and rhythmic mastery. Just three of the many words that could apply to John Coltrane’s Killer Opening Song “Giant Steps”, from the same-titled album. If smoothness and subtlety were the mots d’ordre on Blue Note’s release Blue Train, then Atlantic Record’s offering Giant Steps’ were chaos and improvisation. Beautiful chaos and improvisation, K.O.S. hastens to add.
In terms of tenor solo statements, Giant Steps was outstanding. From the outset there was a clear intention from John Coltrane to break away from the foot-tapping sound he had helped create on Miles Davis’ timeless classic Kind of Blue. Saxophone, double-bass, piano and drums kick off together. Rather than a mere time-keeping ensemble piece, Paul Chambers’ bass acts as another level of tonal exploration. This serves both pianist and saxophonist well as their sound swells to unreal levels.
The Killer Opening Song is the gateway to other six musical gems such as Countdown’s blistering, sonic explosion, swinging Syeeda’s Song Flute and self-searching, simple and yet emblematic Naima.
Whereas Blue Train was a sort of bridge between the recent Charlie Parker-driven bebop sound and the smoother Miles Davis’ approach, Giant Steps was the sign of things to come in jazz. More experimental and more outré, this was Coltrane at his peak as a bandleader and composer. Once again, all this thanks to the Killer Opening Song.
Next Post: “Thoughts in Progress”, to be published on Saturday 22nd October at 6pm (GMT)