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.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
Chris May is a senior editor of All About Jazz. He was previously the editor of the pioneering magazine Black Music & Jazz Review, and more recently editor of the style / culture / history magazine Jocks & Nerds.