Giant Steps

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Giant Steps
Coltrane Giant Steps.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1960[1]
RecordedMay 4–5, 1959
December 2, 1959
StudioAtlantic Studios, New York[2]
ProducerNesuhi Ertegün
John Coltrane chronology
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
Giant Steps
Coltrane Jazz

Giant Steps is the fifth studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane as leader, released in January 1960 on Atlantic Records, catalogue SD 1311. This was his first album as leader for his new label Atlantic Records. Many of its tracks have become practice templates for jazz saxophonists.[3][4] In 2004, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. It attained gold record status in 2018, having sold 500,000 copies.[5]


In 1959, Miles Davis's business manager Harold Lovett negotiated a record contract for Coltrane with Atlantic, the terms including a $7,000 annual guarantee.[6] Initial sessions for this album, the second recording date for Coltrane under his new contract after a January 15 date led by Milt Jackson, took place on March 26, 1959.[7] The results of this session with Cedar Walton and Lex Humphries were not used, but appeared on subsequent compilations and reissues. Principal recording for the album took place on May 4 and 5, two weeks after Coltrane had participated in the final session for Kind of Blue.[8] The track "Naima" was recorded on December 2 with Coltrane's bandmates, the rhythm section from the Miles Davis Quintet, who would provide the backing for most of his next album, Coltrane Jazz.[9]

The recording exemplifies Coltrane's melodic phrasing that came to be known as sheets of sound, and features his explorations into third-related chord movements that came to be known as Coltrane changes.[10] Jazz musicians continue to use the Giant Steps chord progression, which consists of a distinctive set of chords that create key centers a major third apart, as a practice piece and as a gateway into modern jazz improvisation. Several pieces on this album went on to become jazz standards, most prominently "Naima" and "Giant Steps".[11]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic5/5 stars[12]
Down Beat5/5 stars[13]
Penguin Guide to Jazz4/4 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[15]
Virgin Encyclopedia5/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[17]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" calling it "Trane's first genuinely iconic record."[18] In 2003, the album was ranked number 102 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[19] and 103 in a 2012 revised list.[20]

On March 3, 1998, Rhino Records reissued Giant Steps as part of its Atlantic 50th Anniversary Jazz Gallery series. Included were eight bonus tracks, five of which had appeared in 1975 on the Atlantic compilation Alternate Takes, the remaining three earlier issued on The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings in 1995.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by John Coltrane.

Side one
1."Giant Steps"4:43
2."Cousin Mary"5:45
Side two
1."Syeeda's Song Flute"7:00
3."Mr. P.C."6:57
1998 reissue bonus tracks
8."Giant Steps" (alternate version 1)3:41
9."Naima" (alternate version 1)4:27
10."Cousin Mary" (alternate take)5:54
11."Countdown" (alternate take)4:33
12."Syeeda's Song Flute" (alternate take)7:02
13."Giant Steps" (alternate version 2)3:32
14."Naima" (alternate version 2)3:37
15."Giant Steps" (alternate take)5:00

Recording Dates[21]

Thursday 26 March 1959: Tracks 8, 9, 13, 14 (Bonus Tracks released in 1998)

Monday 4 May 1959: Tracks 3, 4 (Side One of original album); 11 (Bonus Track released in 1998)

Tuesday 5 May 1959: Tracks 1, 2, (Side One of original album); 1, 3, (Side Two of original album); 10, 12, 15 (Bonus Tracks released in 1998)

Wednesday 2 December 1959: Tracks 2 (Side Two of original album)




Release history[edit]

  • 1960 – Atlantic Records SD 1311, vinyl record
  • 1987 – Atlantic Records, first generation compact disc
  • 1994 – Mobile Fidelity Gold CD
  • 1998 – Rhino Records R2 75203, Deluxe Edition compact disc and 180-gram vinyl record


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[22] Gold 500,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Editorial Staff, AllMusic. "Album Releases". Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  2. ^ Atlantic Masters CD Edition Liner Notes, 1998
  3. ^ Ben Ratliff. Coltrane: The Story of A Sound. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; 2007. ISBN 978-0-374-12606-3. pp. 53-54.
  4. ^ Lewis Porter. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999. ISBN 0-472-10161-7, p. 145.
  5. ^ "What's News". The New York City Jazz Record. No. 202. January 2019. p. 5.
  6. ^ Lewis Porter. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999. ISBN 0-472-10161-7, pp. 117-8.
  7. ^ Porter, p. 145, pp. 359-60.
  8. ^ Porter, p. 360.
  9. ^ Giant Steps. Atlantic R2 75203, liner notes, p. 18.
  10. ^ Porter, pp. 145-148
  11. ^ Jazz Standards website retrieved 7 August 2011 Archived 17 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Allmusic review
  13. ^ Down Beat review Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Penguin Guide to Jazz review". Archived from the original on 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  15. ^ Rolling Stone review
  16. ^ "Virgin Encyclopedia review". Archived from the original on 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  17. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 46. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  18. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. "John Coltrane". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th. ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 269. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
  19. ^ "102) Giant Steps". Rolling Stone. New York. November 2003. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  20. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  21. ^ Atlantic Masters Edition CD Liner Notes 1998
  22. ^ "American album certifications – John Coltrane – Giant Steps". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]