A date for your diary... 18 September 2020. That is when Atlantic / Rhino releases two cracking new editions of John Coltrane's first landmark album, Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960). The main event is enhanced audio quality, which has noticeably more presence than any previous reissue.
The double CD and vinyl Remastered Edition and digital-only Super Deluxe Edition consist of material which has been newly remastered by John Webber at Air Studios in London. The Remastered Edition includes the original seven-track album and eight alternate takes from the sessions (including one of "Like Sonny," the approved take of which was first released on 1961's Coltrane Jazz). The Super Deluxe Edition includes all this plus another twenty alternate takes, breakdowns and false starts, many of which have only previously been available on Atlantic / Rhino's 1995 boxset, The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings.
What is their left to say about Giant Steps that has not already been said? Precious little, and liner note scribe Ashley Kahn sensibly avoids trying to do so in the twenty-four page booklet that accompanies the CD edition. What he does do, usefully, is include newly garnered thoughts about the album from saxophonists Archie Shepp, Ravi Coltrane, Shabaka Hutchings, Marcus Strickland, David Murray and Dave Liebman, who offer fresh insights into the music and also, in Hutchings' case, about Coltrane's embrochure, as revealed by the cover shot.
John Coltrane: Giant Steps: Remastered & Super Deluxe Editions is not as game changing a release as Impulse!'s double CD A Love Supreme: Deluxe Edition (2002). That not only delivered dramatically improved audio but also, amongst other previously unreleased material, two full-length takes of "Acknowledgement," recorded the day after the session which produced the original album with Archie Shepp and Art Davis added to the Classic Quartet on tenor saxophone and bass. But the new Giant Steps is nonetheless something around which Coltrane connoisseurs and (in the case of the digital edition) completists will enjoy wrapping their ears.
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