Giant Steps

The last time John Coltrane showed up on this list, way back at #47 with A Love Supreme, I talked about how I played saxophone all the way through my senior year of high school and how it was kind of an important thing for me when I was growing up.  Well, there is a continuation to that story, and I’ll tell it here.  Back in the fall of ’94, I packed up my beat-up blue Grand Am and drove three hours south to the ‘Bus to start college at The Ohio State University.  I brought my saxophone with me, and even though I was enrolled in a pretty rigorous pre-med track of courses, I had it in my head that I was going to major in music.  I was also completely mind-fucked at the time, as bad as I’ve ever been, but that’s another story (see entry #37 Hotel California).  At any rate, the first thing they told me at the School O’ Music was that I had entirely missed the audition process and I would have to wait until next quarter to audition.  So I said fine and auditioned for the university wind bands, and I was pretty surprised when I was placed in the lowest band possible.  I thought I was a pretty decent player…I had been first chair in my high school and second chair all-county.  But this was the big time: the giant university in the big city, and it was a completely different ballgame…I just didn’t realize it yet.

So my time finally came to audition three months later, and the powers that be said “Sure kid, we will let you in provisionally: you have two quarters to prove you can hack it.” And that was my introduction to traditional saxophone studio (I was certainly not a jazz player).  And the people were cool, as you would expect saxophone players to be, and some of them I still talk with to this day.  And they were all immensely talented.  Like out of this world talented.  And honestly, I just didn’t have the chops to keep up.  And my heart just wasn’t in it either.  And by the time my jury came up (music major juries are probably the most intense and scariest thing I have ever experienced and survived in my lifetime), the panel knew it too.  Fortunately, by then I had begun to do more than just dabble in singing, and I was able to audition on voice and get into the program as a vocal music major.  And that is how I eventually wound up as a choir director for sixteen years before going the administrative route.

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about the album a bit.  I think this set is much more accessible to the typical listener than A Love Supreme was.  This is more of your standard collection of jazz tunes…like what you would hear in a smoky jazz club on the weekend in a major city.  Coltrane is at the top of his game here, and his manic runs are balanced by his more lyrical moments.  The backing band does more than just keep up…they add character to the tunes, along with an occasional piano solo.  Overall, it’s a fun set of songs that gets better with repeated listenings.  I picked this up at the Half Price Books by me on Bethel Road for $4.99, and it was worth every penny.

Other lists: n/a

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its rank of #102 on the original list.

My favorite track: “Syeeda’s Song Flute”

Honorable mention: “Naima”

Quote: n/a