Perspectives on playing John Coltrane’s Giant Steps

Well, it’s taken 133 weeks, but our journey through the Real Book has finally brought us to John Coltrane’s seminal composition “Giant Steps!”

In keeping with the hugely influential nature of this tune, I went deep on this one, producing a video I’m very proud of and one which I think will help you get a good overall perspective on playing the tune (whether you’ve been playing it for decades or are just now discovering it.)

On the video:

1. I discuss both the compositional and historical aspects of the tune.

2. I’m delighted to share valuable insight about Coltrane that was told to me by my college teacher Hale Smith, who knew Coltrane personally and also taught ear-training to Eric Dolphy. (Coltrane had actually played some of Hale’s jazz tunes early in his career.)

3. I play an extended, solo piano version of Giant Steps that uses two different kinds of variation techniques: traditional “theme and variation” and “continuous development.” The traditional theme and variations is when you begin each chorus with a new pianistic texture or motif, and continuous development is when each motif seamlessly morphs into the next. Keith Jarrett and Sonny Rollins are two prominent jazz musicians who use continuous development in their playing.

The video is a biggie, and I think it will provide some much-needed insight and perspective on “Giant Steps.”

Giant Steps: Journey Through The Real Book #133

Have fun exploring Giant Steps, and remember to always “let the music flow!”


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