Impulse Records marks its 60th anniversary with slate of special releases

Sixty years ago, Impulse Records released its very first recording. Now, the iconic jazz label is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a series of new releases, reissues, rarities and more.

Founded by Creed Taylor in 1960, Impulse made its debut a year later with The Great Kai & J. J. by trombonists Kai Winding and J. J. Johnson. By the end of that first year, the imprint had issued recordings by Ray Charles, Gil Evans, Oliver Nelson, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Max Roach and John Coltrane. The label came to be known as “the house that Trane built,” thanks to Coltrane’s commercial success and critical acclaim.

The centrepiece of the label’s year-long 60th anniversary celebration is the May 14 release of Impulse Records: Music, Message & The Moment, a deluxe, four-LP boxed set looking back at the label’s first decade.

The collection highlights the creative heights of artists such as John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, Archie Shepp and Quincy Jones, and the political, social and spiritual conversations around civil rights and Black identity that these artists brought to the forefront throughout the 1960s.

The boxed set also includes essays by A.B. Spellman and Greg Tate, who offer perspectives on the cultural impact of Impulse and its artists during those early years.

It will be followed by a series of high-profile reissues and rarities.

That includes new audiophile editions of Ray Charles’s Genius + Soul = Jazz, Gil Evans’s Out of the Cool, Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and the Abstract Truth and Sonny Rollins’s On Impulse!

Several landmark albums have also been given vinyl reissues, such as Charles Mingus’s Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidanada, Gil Evans’s Out of the Cool and McCoy Tyner’s Inception.

Perhaps the most interesting intriguing reissue to come this year is Alice Coltrane’s Turiya Sings, a spiritual album of devotional chants featuring only Coltrane’s voice and an organ. It was recorded in the early 1980s at her ashram and a version of it was released on cassette in 1982, with strings and synth added. This summer, Turiya Sings will be issued in its original form, as Alice’s son Ravi Coltrane has wanted to do for a long time. A deluxe edition will include both versions, remixed and remastered for CD, LP and digital formats.

Last year, Impulse got the jazz world talking with the newly unearthed Thelonious Monk recording Palo AltoThis summer, they’ll release another edition called Palo Alto: Custodian’s Mix.

Throughout the year, the imprint will also be issuing new releases by contemporary artists Sons of Kemet, Brandee Younger and Pino Palladino & Blake Mills.

There’s also a video series of deep dives into influential albums; the first, about John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, is available now.

“The famous orange label has been the musical home to progressive artists that pushed the boundaries of music, thought, and culture,” said Jamie Krents, executive vice-president of Verve and Impulse. “We are proud to share the story of this remarkable label with the world in this, its 60th year.”

“Over the last 60 years, Impulse Records has released some of the most important and influential jazz albums of all time,” said Bruce Resnikoff, president and CEO of UMe. “We’re thrilled to celebrate six decades of this iconic and truly American label by shining a light all year long on the profound way that Impulse and its many incredible artists have forever impacted music and culture.”

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