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Plus Four

Extra Tracks

3.5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, February 9, 1993
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Plus Four, from September 1956, was Max Roach's first recording as a leader following the deaths of his musical partner, Clifford Brown, and their pianist, Richie Powell (the brother of the more famous Bud Powell), in an automobile accident just three months before. Given that circumstance, it's a stunningly upbeat and intense affirmation of the hard-bop ethos. Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins and bass stalwart George Morrow remained from the earlier band, and Roach enlisted trumpeter Kenny Dorham and pianist Ray Bryant to complete the quintet.

It was a time when Rollins had just matured into one of the dominant soloists in jazz, with a commanding sound and a headlong forward momentum, in which ideas and technique matched up with unusual symmetry. Dorham's more deliberated trumpet lines provide a different perspective on the material, and the controlled contrast of their approaches gives the band a distinct sound. The opening "Ezz-thetic," composed by George Russell, is an immediate reminder of a time when hard bop was adventurous. A complex, almost atonal theme taken at breakneck tempo, it combines with Roach's clipped drumming to press Rollins and Dorham to immediate heights. The same musical muscle flexing appears on the blistering "Just One of Those Things," while Roach's inventiveness as both composer and percussionist is evident in his brief feature "Dr. Free-Zee," complete with overdubbed tympani, and "Mr. X." Dorham, Bryant, and Rollins reveal three kinds of lyricism on "Body and Soul" and a shared feeling for classic bop on Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n' You." The original LP is supplemented by three additional tracks from March 1957 with Bryant replaced by Billy Wallace, a little-known pianist who shines on "Love Letter." Ellington's "Don't Mean a Thing" manages to still swing at a furious pace. --Stuart Broomer

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Product details

  • Audio CD (February 9, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B0000046UU
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,876 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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3 customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

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February 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
13 people found this helpful
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November 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
3 people found this helpful
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November 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
4 people found this helpful
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