4 CD retrospective of one of the most celebrated jazz labels of the lot, compiled by...
Peter Marsh 2002
Impulse was (and still is) a jazz label with iconic status. Browse through any serious jazz record collection and you're bound to come across a cluster of those familiar gatefold sleeves with their orange and black spines.
Though launched in 1961 with no particular stylistic emphasis, the label was bankrolled by a Ray Charles hit. But to most jazz fansit's inextricably linked with the furious, righteous ecstacies of 'The New Thing', spearheaded by John Coltrane. Coltrane had been with the label from the start, but by the mid 60s was beginning to act as a talent scout as well as its star attraction. With the likes of Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Marion Brown on board, the sleeves were able to boast that 'The New Wave of Jazz is on Impulse!'
But it wasn't all screaming tenor solos and thirty minute percussion freak-outs. Elder statesmen like Count Basie, Paul Gonsalves, Earl Hines, Ben Websterall found homes on Impulse and Khan finds room for them here. We also get Impulse's greatest hits (Coltrane's "A Love Supreme", Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" etc etc).
Some will grumble about the choice of tracks, but Khan's choice does a great job in giving a flavour of the breadth (and importance) of the label's catalogue. Thankfully later Impulse signings (like Diana Krall, fer gawdsakes) aren't included, but Khan finishes proceedings neatly and fittingly with a track from Alice Coltrane's wonderful Translinear Light, recorded in 2005.