Giant Steps, a new sitcom starring three very accomplished Black jazz musicians, has just been released on Amazon Prime.
Dubbed “America’s First Jazz Sitcom,” Giant Steps, which is shot in Harlem, is an old-school comedy in the spirit of Sanford and Son and stars legendary bassist Mickey Bass, Duke Ellington Orchestra alum and creator Gregory Charles Royal, and Ms. Lauryn Hill’s saxophonist Brent Birckhead.
“In the tradition of Black creativity, where we always find a way to express ourselves in fresh ways, the sitcom format allows us to hit America with jazz in a brand new flavor,” says Royal.
Giant Steps centers around three older guys: Mickey, the legendary bassist, his longtime student Chuckie, and Mickey’s best friend and manager Manny, who share a Harlem apartment where, as the tagline states, “Every day is a rollercoaster”. Their arch rival is a young braggadocious sax player named Brent, who thinks the old cats need to step aside and let some new blood into the game.
The unique nature of the show allows the main actors to actually perform, something that has never been attempted in modern television and a tradition lost from the early movies of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and others.
The aspect of the musician-actors is not a coincidence, as it is the primary mission of its creator Gregory Charles Royal, who has championed the concept with his organizations New York Jazz Film Festival and American Youth Symphony. “Just like Def Comedy Jam did with comedians, jazz musicians need to also adapt and branch out into the current mediums of the 21st century,” says Royal.
The first season is a 3-part episodic titled ‘April Fools Jazz’ and can be viewed free with an Amazon Prime membership. Royal hopes that an African American outlet such as a Bounce or a BET will see the value in the programming to produce season two.
Watch Giant Steps – Season One here:
Paul Tafoya as Manny
Gregory Charles Royal
Zari Veres Royal
Marist Veres Royal
Greer C. Morrison