Giant Steps

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Giant Steps
Coltrane Giant Steps.jpg
Studio album by John Coltrane
Released January 27, 1960[1]
Recorded May 4–5, 1959
December 2, 1959
Genre Jazz
Length 37:03
Label Atlantic
Producer Nesuhi Ertegün
John Coltrane chronology
Giant Steps
Coltrane Jazz

Giant Steps is the fifth studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane as leader, released in 1960 on Atlantic Records, catalogue SD 1311. His first album for his new label Atlantic, it is the breakthrough album for Coltrane as a leader, and many of its tracks have become practice templates for jazz saxophonists.[2][3] In 2004, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.


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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] Jazz musicians continue to use the Giant Steps chord progression, which consists of a peculiar set of chords that often move in thirds, 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".[9]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Down Beat 5/5 stars[11]
Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[13]
Virgin Encyclopedia 5/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 5/5 stars[15]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" calling it "Trane's first genuinely iconic record."[16] In 2003, the album was ranked number 102 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[17]

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 written by John Coltrane.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Giant Steps" 4:43
2. "Cousin Mary" 5:45
3. "Countdown" 2:21
4. "Spiral" 5:56
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Syeeda's Song Flute" 7:00
2. "Naima" 4:21
3. "Mr. P.C." 6:57
1998 reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
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




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


  1. ^ Rateyourmusic entry
  2. ^ Ben Ratliff. Coltrane: The Story of A Sound. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; 2007. ISBN 978-0-374-12606-3. pp. 53-54.
  3. ^ Lewis Porter. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999. ISBN 0-472-10161-7, p. 145.
  4. ^ Lewis Porter. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999. ISBN 0-472-10161-7, pp. 117-8.
  5. ^ Porter, p. 145, pp. 359-60.
  6. ^ Porter, p. 360.
  7. ^ Giant Steps. Atlantic R2 75203, liner notes, p. 18.
  8. ^ Porter, pp. 145-148
  9. ^ Jazz Standards website retrieved 7 August 2011
  10. ^ Allmusic review
  11. ^ Down Beat review
  12. ^ Penguin Guide to Jazz review
  13. ^ Rolling Stone review
  14. ^ Virgin Encyclopedia review
  15. ^ Swenson, J. (Editor) (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 46. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "102) Giant Steps". Rolling Stone. New York. November 2003. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 

External links[edit]