"A jazz-lover's delight."—Ray Olson, Booklist
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
As the title of this book states, this is the history of one of the most charismatic record labels in jazz: the Impulse! Records. Easily recognizable on the shelves by the black and orange spines of its LPs (and later also CDs) this was an important label throughout the sixties, having in its catalogue a considerable amount of famous, nay: indispensible, jaz albuns by, among many others, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Albert yler, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Oliver Nelson, and, of course, John Coltrane, who recorded his best work as leader for the label (naturaly A Love Supreme and Ascension, but also the magnificent sessions recorded live at The Village Vanguard in November 1961). The gems are just too many by too many people to list thel all here, but all jazz lover knows what I am talking about. Every fan of the music will enjoy the reading, a chronological history of the company under its different producers (Creed Taylor, Bob Thiele, Ed Michel, Steve Backer and Esmond Edwards) and their rapport with the musicians ant the jazz world. Interspersed among the main text are more than thirty vignetters about specific Impulse! albuns. Pity the current owners of the label did not take this opportunity to put back into the market the large number of titles currently unavailable.
As insightful into music and business trends from the 1950s to the mid-1990s as it is into the Impulse label's history itself, depicting the influence of jazz until eclipsed by popular musical trends like pop & rock. Impulse was predominantly avant garde and free jazz, certainly at the onset, so Kahn's narrative also serves as a primer into major albums and artists: Coltrane, of course, but also Shepp, Mingus, many others. Runs the table from swing to be-bop and hard-bop to free jazz styles, with occasional nods to R&B as well as popular tastes and those influenced by jazz.Impulse is a case in point for the idea of managing a label as a catalogue, rather than with the intent of making hit records and then moving on to the next big thing. Naturally this business model varies by genre (Kahn relates via an interview somewhere that Verve has about 85% of its annual sales from back catalogue, and I'm sure rock labels likely get that much from just a few new titles each year) as well as the type of artist. Interesting that Impulse showcases how a big label (ABC, in this case) can support a small imprint and provide it all the trappings of a big label (distribution, marketing, recording budgets) yet get out of its way and let the label define itself. At least, that's how it started.Nice insight, too, and not at all technical, into the role that recording plays, and how the values shape re-issues (whether lost tracks can be found in usable condition, depending upon quality of studio, existence of B or "simultaneous" tapes used as back-up by large studios).Implicitly advises that should an orange-and-black gatefold LP ever show up in a garage sale or used record shop: snap it up. It'll be worth having.