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Sonny Rollins Plus Four

music reviewmusic reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4

All-Reviews.com Music Review: Sonny Rollins Plus Four

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: July 1991


Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
4 stars out of 4

I am accustomed to hearing jazz CDs that play a good hour or more so I was a bit out of sorts when this CD stopped playing after a little over a half hour. I did not let that throw me off though; I was then reminded by the CD booklet that Sonny Rollins originally recorded Plus Four in 1957. A 30-minute session was the standard in that day even for a jazz album regardless of how long the session was after the tape stopped rolling, all recorded music was unmercifully trimmed down for the sake of marketability. I know how odd that sounds by todays standards but that is how it was then. Regardless of the short run time every song except I Feel a Song Coming On (2:32) is over five minutes or more. That is what you would expect from a jazz tune; therefore, the total time is irrelevant.

This is a classic jazz recording and it was a monumentally important one for Rollins career. Although Rollins played a very important role as a sideman in the Max Roach-Clifford Brown group, this was the first outing he was the bandleader. He would take the steering wheel to navigate his fellow musicians through some of his own compositions during this recording session. He took full advantage of his opportunity and made music history. Normally when a sideman breaks out to go solo they then put a new band together, not in this case, Rollins played with his regular partners, only the leadership role switched hands. Interestingly enough it worked very well.

This is not a stereo recording. Mobile Fidelity however did preserve the original mono recording for this remaster. It still sounds more wonderful than ever. As noted on the labels website, the first pressings of the CD have a sticker on them indicating the recording is Hybrid Stereo, which is not the case. Bop was a crucial developmental sub genre of jazz that lead to the beginning of fusion and progressive interpretations of well-known classics. As great new tracks were awaiting their berth, this album was part of groundbreaking work that would initiate that sequence of events.

Pent-Up House has to be one of the greatest compositions ever written and when you hear it for the first time or for the fiftieth, it always sounds fresh, holding you spellbound. This is archetypal hard bop with five instrumentalists at the pinnacle of their creative powers. Rollins tenor saxophone serves him well as the lead instrument, as it would from that point forward in the central position in a band. Being a leader of a band seemed to come naturally for him, as he gave each musician his turn to share the spotlight, showing how very intelligent and humble he was as a leader.

Timeless and tasteful, the legacy of Sonny Rollins continues to this day. This was the beginning of a new era in jazz giving more musicians an opportunity to explore music without boundaries. Artists like Rollins were true innovators of a genre that was literally exploding with ideas. I certainly cannot be as eloquent or knowledgeable about the minutiae as Ira Gitler (original liner notes) was, but I know great music when I hear it in such pristine and perfected detail. Plus 4 is every bit as important today as it was I 1957. Here is the proof and the truth right here on this SACD reissue.

1. Valse Hot - 8:40
2. Kiss and Run - 7:11
3. Count Your Blessings - 5:16
4. I Feel a Song Coming On - 2:32
5. Pent-Up House - 8:53

Credits:

Clifford Brown - Trumpet
Max Roach - Drums
Sonny Rollins - Sax (Tenor), Interviewee
George Morrow - Bass
Richie Powell - Piano

10000031

 


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