Open Notes

Liner Notes to Coltrane’s Giant Steps

Listening to music from the 1950s and 60s on my iPad is a wonderful thing to be able to do, but I also miss liner notes from albums. The Lee Friedlander photographs and notes, often enough, by Nat Hentoff.

Miles encouraged Coltrane and also stimulated his harmonic thinking. In terms of writing as well, John feels he’s learned from Miles to make sure that a song “is in the right tempo to be its most effective. He also made me go further into trying different modes in my writing.” After two years with Miles, there was a period in 1957 with Thelonious Monk that Coltrane found unusually challenging. “I always had to be alert with Monk,” he once said, “because if you didn’t keep aware all the time of what was going on, you’d suddenly feel as if you’d stepped into an empty elevator shaft.”