House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records

Overview

Through the exciting and rapid changes of the 1960s and 1970s, Impulse Records was the sound of jazz tradition and the shape of jazz to come - edgy, soulful, and elegantly packaged. In The House That Trane Built, author Ashley Kahn recounts in layman-friendly terms the full story of this unusual and fascinating company, tracing its nearly two-decade arc of artistic triumphs and unlikely marketing coups. Leaning on extensive archival research and interviews with well over fifty musicians, industry executives, and ...
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The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records

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Overview

Through the exciting and rapid changes of the 1960s and 1970s, Impulse Records was the sound of jazz tradition and the shape of jazz to come - edgy, soulful, and elegantly packaged. In The House That Trane Built, author Ashley Kahn recounts in layman-friendly terms the full story of this unusual and fascinating company, tracing its nearly two-decade arc of artistic triumphs and unlikely marketing coups. Leaning on extensive archival research and interviews with well over fifty musicians, industry executives, and producers. The House That Trane Built features over one hundred illustrations, as well as thirty-six album profiles detailing the inside stories of some of the most enduring jazz recordings of all time.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Noted jazz writer Kahn follows up his in-depth account of the making of jazz legend John Coltrane's most famous album, A Love Supreme, with a history of the record label Coltrane ushered into jazz history. Always a corporate entity (though it changed hands several times between its inception in 1961 and the present), Impulse! was founded by legendary jazz producer Creed Taylor as an imprint of ABC-Paramount records. During Taylor's short stint as label head (before being recruited to overhaul Verve Records), he signed Impulse!'s first exclusive artist, Coltrane, who, through his endless musical questing, recommendations of other artists and status as the label's bestseller, would define Impulse!'s sound and proclivity toward the avant-garde. Taylor's successor, Bob Thiele, was the major driving force at Impulse!, however, supporting Coltrane through his prolific, often confounding musical experiments and producing records by such other influential artists as Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders. Kahn mingles engaging stories of corporate politics with insider accounts of music-making and anecdotal takes on particular albums. His history of Impulse! is also the story of the genesis of an American art form and the evolution of the record industry through the tumultuous 1960s-and will compel readers to seek out this label's masterful albums. Photos. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The artistic and commercial vicissitudes of a seminal jazz label, reconsidered. Journalist Kahn, who has written about Miles Davis (Kind of Blue) and John Coltrane (A Love Supreme), now examines the history of Impulse Records, that singular jazz incubator of the '60s and '70s. Initiated as an imprint of ABC-Paramount, the corporation encompassing the eponymous TV network and movie studio, Impulse blossomed quickly under the aegis of producer-executive Creed Taylor. It was Taylor who formulated the sleek look, striking logo and unique style of the label, which spawned early hits by Ray Charles (in a funky instrumental mode) and the exploratory saxophonist Coltrane, who (per Kahn's title) became the company's greatest star. The book's true hero is Bob Thiele, who helmed the label from 1961-69, a period of explosive musical creativity amid violent social change. The firm's "new wave of jazz" brought forth not only Coltrane's daring avant-garde explorations, but also probing new works by jazz forefathers Pee Wee Russell and Earl Hines, swing era masters like Duke Ellington and Benny Carter, and Trane acolytes such as Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders. Those classy, stylistically diverse productions, Kahn notes, were also popular successes, despite debate about the value of jazz's confrontational "new thing." The book loses narrative steam after Thiele's exit following a corporate clash in '69, two years after Coltrane's premature death. But the writer still tells some compelling tales about Impulse's '70s sojourn in Los Angeles; there, the label flourished for a time under Ed Michel, who issued classic records by such talents as saxophonist Gato Barbieri and pianist Keith Jarrettbefore its sale to MCA in 1977. Kahn covers all the aesthetic, business, social and historical bases with crisp economy. The book's only shortcoming is one of design: Two- and three-page pieces interspersed through the text about significant or unusual Impulse releases, though informative, make for herky-jerky reading. Otherwise, this is a brisk account. Generally speaking, a swinging read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393058796
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/5/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,369,412
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Kahn is an award-winning journalist and radio essayist and the author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album and A Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece. He lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The man behind the signature : Creed Taylor (1954-1961) 13
Ch. 2 The re-education of Bob Thiele (1961-1962) 59
Ch. 3 Intuition and impulse (1963-1964) 93
Ch. 4 The new thing and impulse (1965-1967) 131
Ch. 5 Between jazz and a hard place (1965-1967) 163
Ch. 6 Impulse after Trane (1967-1969) 183
Ch. 7 Impulse out West (1969-1975) 211
Ch. 8 The lives of a label : the tenor of a time (1975-present) 265
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