“Four” is one of the best-known jazz tunes attributed to Miles Davis. He may actually have written it, although a substantial number of musicians maintain that the composer was the alto saxophonist and blues singer Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. It is all but certain that Vinson also wrote “Tune Up,” another modern jazz standard for which Davis took credit. Regardless of authorship, “Four” quickly became a jazz standard following its first recording by Davis on his 1954 Prestige album Blue Haze. It has been performed countless times since.
During a visit to Copenhagen in 1968, Sonny Rollins tackled “Four” with a rhythm section of Kenny Drew, piano; Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, bass; and Albert “Tootie” Heath, drums. Rollins sets the scene with an unaccompanied introduction in which he does not quote every song he ever heard. It only seems that way.
Sonny Rollins and friends, Denmark, 49 years ago!