Impulse! Records  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Impulse! Records is an American based jazz record label, originally launched in 1960 by Creed Taylor as a subsidiary of ABC-Paramount Records in New York City. Most Impulse! albums were produced by Bob Thiele who joined the company after Taylor left to head Verve Records, assisted by the sound engineer, Rudy Van Gelder. It was apparently John Coltrane who insisted that Taylor bring Van Gelder into the fold; Coltrane was Impulse!'s first major signing and the label came to be known in retrospect as "the house that Trane built".

Impulse! releases are known for their distinctive design, dominated by black and orange on the sleeve spine and record label. Impulse! LPs also tended to lack the essay-type liner notes that other jazz labels featured, opting instead for a distinctive, sparse back cover design with the slogan, "The New Wave of Jazz is on IMPULSE!". The company is perhaps best known as a free jazz label, releasing works by Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Pharaoh Sanders, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown and others but has also recorded more mainstream musicians (Freda Payne...). At one time or another during the sixties Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Paul Gonsalves, Milt Jackson, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Yusef Lateef, Chico Hamilton, Clark Terry, Kai Winding, J. J. Johnson, Oliver Nelson, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Gabor Szabo, Ray Charles, and Shirley Scott all recorded for the label. Keith Jarrett's American Quartet, with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden Paul Motian & Gato Barbieri recorded a sequence of albums for the label in the mid 1970s. New recordings from the label ceased in the late 1970s, but ABC-Paramount Records kept putting out reissues of classic albums until the company was sold to MCA Records in 1979.

The label name has since been revived for new recordings only for short periods. Impulse! is now part of Universal Music Group's jazz holdings, The Verve Music Group and has been relegated to a reissue-only label. Recently however, Impulse! has released new recordings from those who had historic ties to the label. (esp. from McCoy Tyner & John Coltrane's widow Alice Coltrane), but also more mainstream and commercial artists like Diana Krall.

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