Impulse!

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Impulse Records Overview

(Heavily abridged from Wiki. Those Coltrane fans do like to write!)

Impulse! Records was  established in 1960 by producer Creed Taylor as a subsidiary of ABC-Paramount Records, part of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Taylor had previously worked with the New York-based Bethlehem Records label, as its inaugural house producer and A&R manager. He set the scene for the label’s most successful period with his far-sighted signing of John Coltrane. He left Impulse in the summer of 1961 to take over the running of Verve Records.

Taylor’s successor, Bob Thiele, produced nearly all the albums released during Impulse’s ‘classic’ period in the 1960s, and his towering achievement was the signing of John Coltrane. to the label.. Although not initially familiar with the ‘new jazz’ movement, he proved to be an open-minded producer who backed the creative choices of his artists, affording them unprecedented freedom in the studio. During the period that Taylor and Thiele led the label, many Impulse! albums were recorded at the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey studio owned and operated by engineer Rudy Van Gelder, and this association lasted from the label’s inception until around the time of Thiele’s departure in the late 1960s (starting his own “Flying Dutchman” label)

New recordings from the label ceased in the late 1970s, with ABC re-issuing classic titles until the company was sold to MCA Records in 1979. The label name has since been revived for new recordings only for short periods and is now part of Universal Music Group’s jazz holdings, The Verve Music Group, and  relegated to a reissue-only label. Coltrane is no longer among us, and neither is the huge talent factory that was  New York in the Fifties.

Vinyl Collector Tips

Impulse started off well, and maintained a steady course though the Sixties, but by the Seventies, along with a lot of the record industry, an output of poorly manufactured reissues not worthy of the vinyl they were pressed on.

1.  Always look out for the US original orange and black label Impulse, with laminated thick card gatefold covers. US pressings will often have a Van Gelder stamp in the trail-off. Stereo is excellent and preferable, though the mono are no slouch.

2. Always check the record label – later Impulse reissues are often found in jackets that look like the older originals. Avoid anything in flimsy jacket with ABC prominent in the branding. Impulse reissues in their own name are a significant drop in quality.

3. UK collectors should head straight for HMV pressings, which were the UK licensed  1st release. Most of the first wave of Impulse releases 1960-64 were remastered for UK release by EMI on behalf of HMV and they are heavy vinyl (160-180 gm)  and sound great.

Impulse: merchandising jazz 1961 style

Impulse-Billboard-1961

Next: Impulse US label guide

| Impulse album index

Postscript: Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label “Contact”

(King Pressing, Japan, facsimile label)

CONTACT-LABEL-1000-LJC

26 thoughts on “Impulse!

  1. I was looking at my 20 July, 2016 list of my ABC-Paramount record holdings and now provide an updated list. I actually had the additions without knowing it.

    ABC-Paramount
    Lucky Thompson featuring Oscar Pettiford Vol. 1 ABC 111
    Jimmy Raney featuring Bob Brookmeyer ABC 129
    Oscar Pettiford Orchestra in Hi-Fi ABC 135
    Ruby Braff, featuring Dave McKenna ABC 141
    Lucky Thompson featuring Oscar Pettiford Vol. 2 ABC 171
    Buddy Collette: Calm, Cool, and Collette ABC-179
    Quincy Jones: Go West, Man ABC-186
    Jackie and Roy Krall: Free and Easy ABC-207
    Lambert, Hendricks and Ross: Sing a Song of Basie ABC 223
    Oscar Pettiford in Hi Fi, Volume 2 ABC 227
    The Axidentals with the Kai Winding Trombones ABC 232

  2. Here’s my list of ABC Paramount and Impulse LPs. I have few Coltranes because I heard him live many times.
    ABC-Paramount
    Lucky Thompson featuring Oscar Pettiford Vol. 1 ABC 111
    Oscar Pettiford Orchestra in Hi-Fi ABC 135
    Lucky Thompson featuring Oscar Pettiford Vol. 2 ABC 171
    Buddy Collette: Calm, Cool, and Collette ABC-179
    Lambert, Hendricks and Ross: Sing a Song of Basie ABC 223

    Impulse!
    Kai Winding/J. J. Johnson: The great Kai and J.J. Impulse A 1
    Gil Evans: Out of the Cool Impulse A 4
    Gil Evans: Out of the Cool (digitally remastered promo disc) MCA-5653
    Oliver Nelson: The Blues and the Abstract Truth Impulse A 5
    John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard Impulse A 10
    Benny Carter: Further Definitions Impulse A 12
    Milt Jackson Quartet: Statements A 14
    Manny Albam and His Orchestra: Jazz Goes to the Movies A-19 (Stereo)
    Shelly Manne Quartet 2-3-4 Impulse A 20
    Coleman Hawkins: Desafinado A 28 (also IMP-227?)
    George Wein & The Newport All-Stars Impulse A-31
    John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman Impulse A 40
    Paul Gonsalves: Cleopatra—Feelin’ Jazzy A 41
    Gary McFarland Sextet: Point of Departure A-46 (Stereo)
    Terry Gibbs Quartet: Take It From Me Impulse A-58
    Clark Terry: The Happy Horns of Clark Terry A-64 (Stereo)
    John Coltrane: Ascension Ed. 1, Parts 1 and 2 Impulse A 95
    Pee Wee Russell: Ask Me Now Impulse A 96
    Earl Hines: Once Upon a Time Impulse A 9108
    Yusef Lateef: A Flat, G Flat, and C Impulse AS 9117
    Pee Wee Russell/Oliver Nelson: The Spirit of ’67 Impulse AS 9147
    Al “Jazzbo” Collins: A lovely Bunch of Jazzbo Collins and the Bandidos
    Impulse AS 9150
    Sonny Rollins: There Will Never Be Another You Impulse IA-9349

    • I don’t find fault with any of the iterations of the orange label/black ring, whether Am-Par or ABC Records Inc, dating from the ’60s and the successor black label red rim is generally pretty feisty. It is only into the early 70’s in the final years of the black label/red rim when the ©1972 started to appear that I have concerns about audio quality. That applies industry-wide to a lot of vinyl production, not to single out Impulse unfairly.

  3. Do anyone have some info on the Contact label? Have a Kuhn LP “Three waves” on that label with RVG in the run off. Looks very similar to the Impulse. Thanx

  4. I am trying to establish release Uk release dates for Coltrane Impulse records, particularly “A Love Supreme”. I remember”Live at the Village Vanguard” being on HMV lable. It seems from Ashley Khan’s book that a tape was sent from the US and cut by EMI.

    • Ahh, Billboard 1961
      UK No.1 Johnny Leyton (leather jacket and quiff) Johnny Remember Me;
      Hot 100 at No. 5: Lonnie Donnegan, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (on the bedpost overnight).
      Those were the days.
      Thank God they’ve gone!!

      Thanks for this trip down (loss of) Memory Lane, Jim. I’ll be humming these all day. Johhhh..nny, re memmm ber meeee…

      (The Impulse ad is great. I’ll add it to the post)

  5. LJC, because I’m a little boring, I checked a few of my UK Impulses releases on HMV and they were all made from US metalwork with an RVG stamp. This seems in line with other HMV releases of ABC product – my Ray Charles LPs are all from US stampers.
    The 1968 releases on UK pressed Impulse are remastered in the UK.

    • I can not abide a smartypants, Dean, especially if they are right. I don’t recall seeing US metal etchings on HMV, but maybe I wasn’t looking for them. I will investigate…

      Update:
      Dean – have you been smoking something you shouldn’t? I have just pulled ten HMV Impulse releases all 1963-4 ish, Coltrane, Mingus, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, every single one is an EMI UK pressing with UK matrix machine stamped in the EMI fashion (following the curve of the record) and no other markings in the runout. Some have UK Purchase Tax stamp by the spindle hole. No sign of US metalwork, no RVG no Van Gelder on HMV. I have uploaded a comparison between Impulse metalwork and HMV Impulse for the two closest titles I have – A5 and A6 at the foot of the post. Have I missed something?

      • I hold my hands up on this one working from memory I have clearly made a mistake here. (red face for Dean)
        All of mine have the US catalogue number in the run-out groove, but nothing else.
        Now here’s a conundrum. I presume those aren’t UK cut masters, because standard form would be for EMI to use their UK catalogue number. On top of that in research on Ray Charles UK pressings a colleague of mine found they were all produced from metalwork sent from the US. The run-outs had the same form of US cat number printed in. Your pictures show that with Impulse the catalogue numbers were scratched in rather than stamped.
        Is it possible that ABC cut special metalwork for their overseas releases? More research I think.
        I’m off to study some more run out grooves!

        • Red suits you, Dean. No, really…
          Prestige were supplying US stampers to Esquire right up until their demise – 1963-ish. Not impossible Impulse did too, but surely they would have been RVG derivatives. Why go to the trouble of cutting a new master without RVG just to send metalwork to the pesky Brits, when you had RVG master stampers in hand?
          Still, manys the time I’ve seen stupid things done.
          I’m pretty certain I’ve seen that curved machine stamp on EMI Hayes pressings over a wide range of titles, not just Impulse.

          Interested in any other theories.

  6. I just took delivery of a 1976 Japanese pressing of Coltrane / Hartman with the green bullseye label. Thicker vinyl than US pressings of that era, stereo and sounds wonderful. Pressed by Nippon Columbia with slight label variations. Let me know if you’d like to add the label to your list.

    • I always like to add a Japanese variant to the label guide. Send the label. The labelography fundementalists may sneer at non-US editions, but out here in the tiny backwaters of Europe and the even smaller “rest of the world”, sometimes that’s all we see. What with the recent hike in US postal charges, US ebay sellers demanding expensive tracking on top, plus the risk of customs charges, buying from America is looking a lot less attractive.

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