There’s no better general description and anything more that I could add about this album, “Sonny Rollins Plus 4” than this one from Wikipedia. All I can write here is that if by some freak mistake, you don’t have this album, please get it and enjoy!
Sonny Rollins Plus 4 (also released as 3 Giants!) is a jazz album by Sonny Rollins, released in 1956 on Prestige Records. On this album Rollins plays with the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, of which he was a member at the time. The album was the last full recording including pianist Richie Powell and trumpeter Clifford Brown, as both died in a car accident three months later. The material from this album was later also re-released as 3 Giants and is part of the seven CD set with Rollins’ Complete Prestige Recordings.
Rollins had written his two original compositions (“Pent-Up House” and “Valse Hot”) while a sideman in the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet. It was more common in the 50s for a sideman recording his own work to record with either the rhythm section or leader; thus it was unusual when Rollins recorded with the same musicians that he played with in the Quintet. Rollins had just joined the Quintet five months beforehand, replacing Harold Land, who had left New York to care for his sick wife in California…..Learn More
Rollins had been working as a janitor in Chicago at the time, spending most of his time practicing and rethinking his life (a smaller sabbatical compared to the later ones he would take). The Quintet was in Chicago as well in November 1955, and were playing at the Bee Hive Club in Hyde Park. After sitting in with the Brown/Roach Quintet at the Bee Hive, Rollins was added as the tenor saxophonist.
About the album:
Richie Powell (piano); George Morrow (bass); Max Roach (drums). 1956, Sonny Rollins was spiritually and physically rejuvenated. And on Sonny Rollins Plus 4, he’s clearly inspired by Max Roach and Clifford Brown’s depth of spirit. Multi-dimensional re-arrangements of popular songs were a Brown-Roach trademark. “Kiss and Run” is treated to a stop-and-go intro, then settles into a brisk 4/4, as Rollins, Brown, and the perennially underrated Richie Powell fashion long dancing lines. “I Feel a Song Coming On” creates tension by alternating a vamp figure with a swinging release. Rollins takes an immense solo, contrasting chanting figures and foghorn-like long tones with Parker-ish elisions, and Brown answers with buzzing figures and daring harmonic extensions. Then Roach takes things out with sweeping melodic choruses and polyrhythmic fanfares, setting the stage for a torrid tenor-trumpet duel. On “Valse Hot,” there’s an early example of a successful jazz waltz as Rollins offers up one of his most charming themes. Max Roach treats the European three with the dancing elan of an American four, and Rollins responds by floating in between the beat, syncopating in Monk-ish stabs and thrusts, as Brown answers with the kind of rhythmically complex, sweetly articulated melodic lines that have inspired every modern trumpeter……Read More