Giant Steps – 1987

Branford Marsalis


An uptempo yet relaxed version of the John Coltrane classic

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Ever since John Coltrane first recorded “Giant Steps,” it has been the test piece for young musicians, showing whether they can play modern jazz or not, just as “Cherokee” had filled that role during the bebop years.

Even at this early stage, there was little doubt that Branford Marsalis (who was celebrating his 27th birthday that day) could handle the complex chord changes with ease.

Performed at the Newport Jazz Festival on Aug. 26, 1987 with pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Delbert Felix, and drummer Lewis Nash, after Kirkland takes a fine solo, Marsalis digs in and comes up with his own fresh ideas including playing a duet with Nash.

-Scott Yanow


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