Sonny Rollins Plus 4

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Sonny Rollins Plus 4
Studio album by Sonny Rollins
Released 1956
Recorded March 22, 1956, at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Genre Jazz, Hard bop
Length 32:17
Label Prestige
PRLP 7038
Producer Bob Weinstock
Sonny Rollins chronology
Work Time
(1956)Work Time1956
Sonny Rollins Plus 4
Tenor Madness
(1956)Tenor Madness1956

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 Brown, as both died in a car accident three months later.[1] The material from this album was later also re-released as 3 Giants[2] and is part of the seven CD set with Rollins' Complete Prestige Recordings.[3]


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.

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. Upon returning to New York, Rollins recorded Plus 4 and used the Quintet as part of an arrangement between his record label, Prestige, and EmArcy, the jazz subsidiary of Mercury, which had the Brown/Roach Quintet under contract. To use Rollins on the Brown-Roach Quintet's EmArcy albums, Prestige owner Bob Weinstock insisted that the group record one album for Prestige, under Rollins' name, for every EmArcy album it recorded as the Quintet. But this arrangement produced only two albums, one for each label, before the tragic deaths of Quintet members Clifford Brown and Richie Powell in June 1956 ended the deal. Rollins had an idea for the album, as well as several original compositions, so the album had a sound distinct from the Quintet's.[4]

Sonny had heard Rosemary Clooney sing "Count Your Blessings" in White Christmas, and decided to record a version, due to his fondness for Irving Berlin standards. "Kiss and Run" is played as a duet between Brown and Rollins. "I Feel a Song Coming On" is a fast cover of a Dorothy Fields standard. "Valse Hot" is a jazz waltz which remains one of Rollins' most well-known pieces, just like his other composition "Pent-Up House".


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[5]

The Allmusic review by Scott Yanow calls the album a "particularly strong hard bop set".[5] Author and musician Peter Niklas Wilson called it "a hastily produced - though ultimately rewarding - session"[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Sonny Rollins except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Valse Hot" – 8:36
  2. "Kiss and Run" (Sam Coslow) – 7:08
Side two
  1. "I Feel a Song Coming On" (Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh, George Oppenheimer) – 5:13
  2. "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" (Irving Berlin) – 2:30
  3. "Pent-Up House" – 8:50



  1. ^ John Barron, "Plus Four," All About Jazz, March 2, 2007
  2. ^ Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown and Max Roach - 3 Giants!, Prestige PR 7291, released presumably 1966 and as Three Giants!, Prestige Historical Series PR 7821, released 1972 retrieved September 3, 2012
  3. ^ Sonny Rollins - The Complete Prestige Recordings, Prestige 7PCD-4407-2, released 1992 retrieved September 3, 2012
  4. ^ Neil Tesser, liner notes from Sonny Rollins Plus 4- SACD 2002 Reissue
  5. ^ a b Yanow, S. Allmusic Review accessed 7 October 2009
  6. ^ Wilson, Peter Niklas (2001). "Discography". Sonny Rollins: The Definitive Musical Guide. Berkeley Hills Books. p. 121. ISBN 1-893163-06-7.