John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ – The most feared song in jazz, explained

John Coltrane, one of jazz history’s most revered saxophonists, released ‘Giant Steps‘ in 1959. It’s known across the jazz world as one of the most challenging compositions to improvise over for two reasons – it’s fast and it’s in three keys. Braxton Cook and Adam Neely give me a crash course in music theory to help me understand this notoriously difficult song, and I’m bringing you along for the ride. Even if you don’t understand a lick of music theory, you’ll likely walk away with an appreciation for this musical puzzle. 

The All-Female Big Bands That Made History During World War II

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s

During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history. 

Jazz Night in America host Christian McBride has spent years tracing the history of some of these bands and notes that during this flourishing time for all-women groups, the 17-piece International Sweethearts of Rhythm had the most formidable level of popularity.

‘Greatest drummer ever’ Hal Blaine dies aged 90

Hal Blaine, one of the most prolific and influential drummers of his generation, has died at the age of 90.

Over the course of his career, he played on countless hits by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys and John Lennon, amongst others.

But his most recognisable riff was the “boom-ba-boom-crack” bar that opened The Ronnettes’ Be My Baby.

On hearing of his death, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson called him “the greatest drummer ever”.