Founded in 1960 by Creed Taylor, Impulse! exploded onto the music scene in January of 1961. Four new albums were launched that month, for their time, they were all monsters.

  • Ray Charles’s Genius + Soul = Jazz
  • Gil Evans’s Out of the Cool’,
  • JJ. Johnson and Kai Winding’s The Great Kai & J. J. and The Incredible Kai Winding Trombones.

They were not just musical genius, the were a master of marketing, precision packaging. In the coming months, Impulse went on to exceed their launch and bring two of the genres giant albums, by two of the decades most innovative stars, Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth and John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass. This was Creed Taylor’s gift to jazz, six albums that would both establish Impulse!, the famous orange and black label, and establish Creed as a jazz powerhouse. Over time Impulse! would also become home to other pioneering jazz artists, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, as well as John Coltrane, Quincy Jones, and more.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Impulse! Records and Universal Music Group’s global catalog company UMe, just announced a year-long campaign that includes a gorgeous, curated box set, a reimagined Alice Coltrane rarity, Turiya Sings, high-fidelity vinyl reissues, curated playlists, brand partnerships, new deep-dive video content and more to be announced throughout 2021.

The 4 LP Box Set Impulse Records: Music, Message & The Moment (May 14th 2021) can be pre-ordered now here. It’s a 4-LP museum drop-front box set that tells the story of the political, social and spiritual facets of the artists and music of Impulse! Records. Impulse! was at its prolific height throughout the 1960s, a decade marked by political protest, racial unrest, social revolution, dismantling institutions. Jazz was an integral part of exploring Black identity and pushing cultural and political boundaries and conversations, as outlined in the box set essays by poet and critic A.B. Spellman and critic Greg Tate, both of whom offer vital perspective on the importance of this label, the artists and music that flowed through it, and the cultural backdrop.

The box set is a compilation, rather than discrete album releases, a sort of “best of” Impulse!

If the 4x LP box set is anything like the 50th anniversary 4x CD set, it will be a keeper. It has to be said though, it doesn’t come cheap, the LP box set will retail at $139.98. For a chance to win a box set, and other prizes, use this link.

1The John Coltrane Quartet — Africa1. Max Roach — Garvey’s Ghost
2. Quincy Jones and his Orchestra — Hard Sock Dance
3. John Coltrane — Up ‘Gainst the Wall
4. Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet — Just Us Blues
21. John Coltrane — Alabama
2. Charles Mingus — Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul
3. Shirley Scott Trio — Freedom Dance
4. Yusef Lateef — Sister Mamie
1. Archie Shepp — Malcolm, Malcolm—Semper Malcolm
2. Stanley Turrentine — Good Lookin’ Out
3. Earl Hines — Black and Tan Fantasy
4. Oliver Nelson — The Rights of All
31. Pharoah Sanders — The Creator Has a Master Plan (edit)
2. John Coltrane & Alice Coltrane — Reverend King
1. The Ahmad Jamal Trio — The Awakening
2. Albert Ayler — Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe
3. Charlie Haden — We Shall Overcome
41. Alice Coltrane — Blue Nile
2. Pharoah Sanders — Astral Traveling
3. Archie Shepp — Blues for Brother George Jackson
4. Michael White — Lament (Mankind)
1. Dewey Redman — Imani
2. Marion Brown — Bismillahi ‘Rrahmani ‘Rrahim
3. John Handy — Hard Work

Even for me the addition of John Handy’s Hard work, is odd. Yes it was released on ABC Impulse! in 1976; yes, it would probably make the top-10 of most Londoners 70’s Jazz funk classics, but does it really belong on this collection? Probably not. I can see though that using it as the last track shows the evolution of Impulse! but doesn’t that imply that it stopped there? What would Creed say?

While writing this, I was motivated to bust out my nearly mint 50th “First Impulse: The Creed Taylor Collection“.

Acoustic Sound Series

Along with the Impluse! 60th anniversary releases, UMe is also promoting the “Acoustic Sound Series”. When I first heard about the series, I wondered if it was a Verve/Impulse! unplugged? No, it’s another remaster series, this time to vinyl. The series is in fact from Acoustic Sound, one of the best sources of new re-issue/remaster vinyl 180gm vinyl and SACD etc. for the discerning jazz buyer. The series is being overseen by Acoustic Sounds CEO Chad Kassem. Kassem has been remastering for both digital and analog for a many years, and in 2002 started their own pressing plant and so these will undoubtedly quality releases.

Acoustic Sounds were behind, one of the major DSD – hires download sites in the US. Sadly, SuperHiRez closed December 2020.

More Information

Impulse Records [via]
Impulse! 60 – News release [via]
Impulse! 60: The Best of Impulse Records [via Spotify]
Chad Kassem talks “keeping vinyl alive” [via discogs]
Impulse releases – Entire pressing catalog [via discogs]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.