Mike Brecker wasn’t only recognised as a great player, but as a great writer. He liked to rework (and reharmonise) the standards that he played regularly. He did this in a clever way with Giant Steps, which he was gigging in his own band in the early 2000s. His reworking of Giant Steps is clever in two ways: in the A section, in between the two four-bar phrases that Trane joins kind of abruptly, Brecker slips in another descending-major-thirds sequence (as if Trane’s original idea wasn’t complicated enough!). It makes me think of the weird circular complexity of an Escher sketch, which we know from Brecker tunes and an album cover, he was already curious about.
The other change is in the B section. Here Brecker gives the original two-bar segments different tonal centres. It makes the B section – the most “in” section of the original Giant Steps – sound like the most “out”.
And then there’s his soloing. He makes it all sound so easy! Check it out on YouTube: “Michael Brecker (Giant Steps)”