Various Artists

In 1961, fledgling jazz label Impulse garnered considerable out-of-the-gate clout by landing an exclusive contract with John Coltrane. It was a brilliant coup because, at that time, the saxophonist was compiling the finest working band of the 1960s. The reed giant was about to take his new quartet with him on what turned out to be the most fascinating — and most lucrative — phase of his entire, multifaceted career. As a result, there is more to the handle The House That Trane Built than just chest-thumping. Coltrane propelled the new label to the forefront of jazz, capturing not only a large audience (in a rock-dominated era) but also the attention of Coltrane's peers. Jazz giants such as Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, and Coleman Hawkins (as well as young lions like Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders) were soon lining up in the Impulse studios in hopes that producers Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele could mine the same magic they worked for Coltrane. This four-disc collection — which includes 50 artists captured in 38 jaw-dropping tracks — celebrates the label's brash, nearly five-decade history of delivering rich, often politically motivated music. It leaves us sorry that The Story of Impulse Records ever had to end.


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