Spirits of the Songs
Mr PC mp3 sample clip
Mr. PC was the closing song Coltrane 1959 album Giant Steps. He was on fire playing this composition written about his bassist Paul Chambers. His solo is so famous that technical scholars have transcribed every note of it. The song is based off of a minor blues form, which allows the soloing musicians a lot of space to build an interesting improvisational statement.
There are some great bootlegs of the European Tour Trane went on after his Village Vanguard November 1961 gig. One has him and Eric Dolphy burn on a Mr. P.C. solo. What really amazes me is how ahead Coltrane was in his live performances than in his studio sessions. This one particular bootleg (probably dating from either December 1961 or January 1962) he sounds like he does in his recordings from 1965.
Today, Giant Steps is the name of a techno record label. The name and the music of this mid point career statement by Coltrane are more recognizable than almost any other musician’s. You can really hear the rapid growth of Coltrane on this album when compared to his early work with Miles. Every composition on there is considered a classic.
Coltrane’s work on Atlantic is some of the best in history of jazz. It precedes Impulse and postdates Prestige. It is so popular because it documents a key transitional state in his work. You can hear all of the different scales and modes uses throughout the Mr. P.C. solo on Giant Steps. It is some of his best work with the sheets of sound that journalists of the day wrote about.
When I'd jam with Roy Campbell at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem, I would ask him to play this song. It allows me to attempt to play some of the scales and modes I have been studying. My solo on this album includes statements directly from the Coltrane tradition and some that are inline with even more unconventional, avant-garde musicians. This holds especially true for Aaron Ali Shaikh’s solo on alto saxophone.