I consider this the first truly essential John Coltrane album, along with his work alongside Miles Davis on the seminal Kind of Blue. It is here that John Coltrane establishes himself as the unprecedent artist that he was. It is on Giant Steps that we find the first essential statement of Coltrane's musical personality.
This recording starts at a breakneck jazz tempo, and hardly lets up throughout the course of its seven tracks. Coltrane's saxaphone explodes through the speakers, in a barrage of notes and bright tones that convey the sheer electricity of all that is possible in jazz music.
This blizzard of sound would quickly grow tiresome, if it weren't for the subtle variations in composition. After the intensity of Giant Steps, Cousin Mary steps up and bounces a little more emphatically, letting Coltrane loosen up and take the groove to incredible heights.
Syeeda's Song Flute similarly finds a way to groove, with more moodiness and cool. The track Naima is the albums only quiet moment, letting Coltrane float his melody into the far reaches of a saxaphone's range, without flash, and with pure feeling. The album ends emphatically with Mr. P.C., showcasing the session musicians in its incredible bursts of drum solos and driving instrumentation.
You don't have to know the details of jazz to get this recording. What makes John Coltrane so special is his ability to communicate through sound, rendering reviews such as this useless. This is a great place to start building a Coltrane collection, or any jazz collection.