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STRIDENT STEPS (Giant Steps) (2:59)Real AudioMP3
composed by John Coltrane (Jowcol)Hear a sample of Strident StepsHear a sample of Strident Steps
Bob Sutter. . . . . piano
MESSIAENIC STEPS (Giant Steps) (2:12)
composed by John Coltrane (Jowcol)
Bob Sutter . . . . . piano

John Coltrane's turned the jazz world on its ear with his composition called "Giant Steps", not to mention his mastery of it. It was first heard on his legendary 1959 recording by the same name. As compositions go, it is brief - sixteen measures long. However, it continues to be considered a proving ground of sorts for any musician who dares to play jazz. It remains one of the most amazingly enduring elements of the Coltrane legacy.

This is not just another jazz is a thrilling harmonic journey of unparalleled symetry in Western music. It features three tonal centers, each one a major third away from each of the other two. The brilliance of this harmonic design is such that I believe Coltrane belongs in the same category with the geniuses that Douglas Hofstadter wrote about in his Pulitzer Prize winning book "Gödel, Escher, Bach" (Vintage).

"Strident Steps" is an arrangement I wrote to use a stride piano foundation for playing "Giant Steps". Because the changes are staggered between the downbeats and upbeats of the left hand, it has a 'half-time' feel to it, or sounds half as fast as the true harmonic rhythm really is. Most importantly, it is a helluva lot of fun to play!

Due to the fact that "Giant Steps" is usually played at a very brisk tempo, listeners seldom get to appreciate what a beautiful melodic and harmonic landscape it is. While it is far from from an original idea to alter the tempo and style, I have included an original treatment I call "Messiaenic Steps" - inspired by the piano music of Olivier Messiaen (1908 - 1992).

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