Track Selection: Giant Steps
John Coltrane (ts) Wynton Kelly or Tommy Flanagan (p) Paul Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb or Art Taylor (d) Engineer Tom Dowd, recorded NYC, December 2, 1959
What can you say? Coltrane’s crowning achievement. Entry for top ten finest jazz records ever. Bow down and worship, we are not worthy.
His arpeggiated chord progressions are a delight, being “in three keys B, G and Eb, shifted by major thirds, creating an augmented triad, which could easily be inverted as descending major sixths”. Technically, words describe music, but somehow miss capturing the enjoyment of listening. I prefer Miles Davis’s description “Trane was the loudest fastest saxophonist I have ever heard.. It was like he was possessed when he put that horn in his mouth, so passionate – fierce…”
I am sure I had this recording for years tucked away somewhere on a 10 CD compilation of “Jazz to do the ironing to“, but the listening experience flows in part from the sacred ritual of mounting the record on the turntable, sitting back, and giving it all your attention. It is a full-time task listening to such concentrated music. And exhausting. The ironing will have to wait.
Vinyl: London LTZ-K 15197
British original pressing by Decca from 1960. Not unlike having Coltrane playing in your living room.
Source: Ebay Sellers Grading: “Record Condition: VG++ or a lot better. Sleeve Condition: VG++/Excellent. NO rips, creases or writing. The record is in near excellent condition ~ an occasional light mark doesn’t affect play. Minimum background noise. The sleeve is very good (nearer excellent.) Bit of age discolour on back and a tiny bit of writing.”
It has been a long wait, but finally, I have my own copy of a record that everyone should own, and probably everyone already owns apart from me. A late starter, but better late than never. Another sniper doubled the cost in the last second, an irritation as they appeared to be a dealer (3,190 scalps, 182 bids on records last 30 days). I don’t mind a shootout between jazz lovers but dealers are a pest in my view. Down to chance which of us came up with the right number. For once, our bids were literally only a couple of pounds apart, precision shooting.
The description VG++ or better covers a lot of bases. The vinyl is not perfect, couple of tics here and there, and a short unobtrusive scratch in the closing seconds of one side, and despite having “no writing” and at the same time ” a tiny bit of writing” you don’t mind someone noting the date of acquisition as 1963, one year short of fifty years ago. That is a historical artefact, and less obtrusive than “Happy Birthday, Richard, xxx Mum” found on the back of one of my Blue Notes.
Better perhaps to have an original US copy. I was offered one once, but asking way too much. This will do nicely, I am content, the holy grail search list just dropped one.
Update October 14, 2015:
Two Giant Steps – cover variation (LJC – left) back cover writing “bought 1963” – not bought new immediately after release but three years later, possibly, or bought second-hand a copy which was new on release. How do we know if the one on the right was bought on release? It may have been, or not. Whatever… both “original” as in “not a later re-issue”