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. 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' business manager Harold Lovett negotiated a record contract for Coltrane with Atlantic, the terms including a $7000 annual guarantee. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. The ability to play over the "Giant Steps" cycle remains to this day one of the benchmark standards by which a jazz musician's improvising skill is measured. Several pieces on this album went on to become jazz standards, most prominently "Naima" and "Giant Steps."
The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" calling it "Trane's first genuinely iconic record." In 2003, the album was ranked number 102 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
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.
All compositions written by John Coltrane.
|1.||"Syeeda's Song Flute"||7:00|
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|
- John Coltrane — tenor saxophone
- Tommy Flanagan — piano
- Wynton Kelly — piano on "Naima"
- Paul Chambers — bass
- Art Taylor — drums
- Jimmy Cobb — drums on "Naima"
- Cedar Walton — piano on "Giant Steps' and Naima" alternate versions
- Lex Humphries — drums on "Giant Steps' and Naima" alternate versions
- Nesuhi Ertegün — production
- Tom Dowd, Phil Iehle — engineering
- Lee Friedlander — photography
- Marvin Israel — cover design
- Nat Hentoff — liner notes
- Bob Carlton, Patrick Milligan — reissue supervision
- Bill Inglot, Dan Hersch — digital remastering
- Rachel Gutek — reissue design
- Hugh Brown — reissue art direction
- Vanessa Atkins, Steven Chean, Julee Stover — reissue editorial supervision
- Ted Meyers, Elizabeth Pavone — reissue editorial coordination
- 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
- Coltrane changes
- and , Rhino Deluxe Edition