Sheets of Sound

Giant Steps was the album that established John Coltrane’s career after striking out on Miles Davis. The title track, which moves progressively from one key to next in a floating atonality, demonstrated Coltrane’s virtuosity and concentration on the tenor saxophone. As someone who did nothing but practiced all day and night, Coltrane showed his mastery of maneuvering his way around a detailed road map, and he was moving so fast that his pianist, Tommy Flanagan, was having some difficulty fingering out how to navigate the treacherous road. The composition is based on a sixteen-bar structure, but it goes by so fast that if you tap your foot to it, you would miss every other beat. If you can’t keep up, this wonderful Flash animation from Michal Levy could help.