Giant Steps

Produced by: 
Produced by The John W. Coltrane Society & Scribe Video Center
10 min

Toni Cade Bambara & Carlton Jones


This vibrant video takes its name from the seminalalbum legendary jazz saxophonist Coltrane released in January 1960, the first album devoted entirely to his own compositions and which bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience.

Today, the John W. Coltrane Society is committed to the preservation and perpetuation of the late jazz great's legacy as one of the most important, and most controversial, figures in jazz. Though one is hard put to find musicians who actually perform in the "Trane" style, Coltrane remains influential by example, inspiring musicians to experiment, take chances, and devote themselves to their craft. The video focuses on Coltrane as a role model for young people and musicians of all ages, the Society's outreach work with children and adults, and the organization's desire to find a permanent home next to Coltrane's home in North Philadelphia.

The Cultural Society is currently located at 1511 N. 33 St., the musicianís residence for many years while he lived in the city. It is the house in which he composed works such as "Cousin Mary" and "Blue Train", among many other pieces. The adjoining property, 1509 N. 33rd Street, was purchased in 1989 to serve as a cultural center for the preservation and study of jazz music.

The John W. Coltrane Cultural Society is dedicated to the preservation of the life, memory and works of the great John W. Coltrane and conducts forums, lectures and concerts focusing on jazz and the self-expression found in music. It also offers numerous childrenís music workshops, a live backyard performance series, as well as annual birthday celebrations in remembrance of John Coltrane. The goals of the JWCCS are to develop activities and programs to help young students to achieve self-esteem and accomplish self-expression through music. The society also wishes to make the cultural contributions of African Americans more visible to accessible to Philadelphia communities, especially through storytelling and music.

Toni Cade Bambara authored two short story collections, Gorilla, My Love and The Seabirds Are Still Alive; a novel, The Salt Eaters; and a collection of fiction, essays, and conversations, Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions (all of which are available from Vintage Books). A noted documentary filmmaker and screenwriter, Bambara taught writing workshops at Scribe for many years and collaborated on numerous productions. Her film work includes the documentaries The Bombing of Osage Avenue and W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices. She died in 1995.

Carlton Jones is a working videographer and the head of Carlton Jones Video, based in Willow Grove, PA.