|A young Coltrane.|
John Coltrane is undoubtedly the greatest tenor saxophonist in jazz history. His influence is undeniable as a musician, composer, innovator, and cultural icon. There is even a St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church! He died in 1967, aged only 40 years ol.
"Giant Steps" is the title track of one of Coltrane's many landmark albums. Recorded in May 1959 and released in January 1960, the version of the tune that made it on the album features Coltrane on tenor sax, Paul Chambers on bass, Tommy Flanagan on piano, and Art Taylor on drums. Although this line-up is terrific, Coltrane's later group is even better, with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Reggie Workman/Jimmy Garrison.
The video below shows the tune and solo coming to life on paper. The song and solo are remarkably complex, though they don't come across as being indulgently so.
For more on Coltrane, there are a few videos online that are documentary clips.
Incidentally, 1959 is a huge year in jazz. In addition to Giant Steps, several great, great albums were recorded (though not necessarily released) then:
Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz To Come
Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um
Art Pepper: Plus Eleven
Billy Taylor: With Four Flutes
Gerry Mulligan: What Is There To Say (some tracks recorded in 1958)
Horace Silver: Blowin' the Blues Away
Dave Brubeck: Time Out