Conventional wisdom in jazz is that the harmonies in the bridge section of Rogers and Hart’s “Have You Met Miss Jones?” inspired John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.” Recently Mark Gilbert, the editor of the British magazine Jazz Journal suggested that a more likely source was composer Harry Warren’s “Chica Chica Boom Chic,” from the 1941 film That Night In Rio. Pianist Jan Lundgren followed up with a letter to the magazine calling Gilbert’s proposition a “sensational discovery.” Lundgren said his analysis showed that the way Warren (pictured right) used moving key centers in major thirds in the final strain of the novelty movie song is “more or less exactly the way Coltrane used the sequence in the first important three bars of “Giant Steps.”
Let’s listen to and watch Carmen Miranda and Don Ameche perform the song. The section in question comes near the end of the movie clip, at 2:37. You needn’t bother digging into your record collection for the comparison. Coltrane’s 1959 recording of “Giant Steps” follows.
It is unlikely that we will ever know whether Coltrane was familiar with “Chica Chica Boom Chic,” but Gilbert’s and Lundgren’s speculation is intriguing.