Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records by Ashley Khan

Impulse records, the final and perhaps definitive, record label of John Coltrane, was the premier jazz record label from the late fifties through the late sixties. This carefully researched book traces the history of the label up through its demise in the mid seventies (although it would return later and still exists as a functioning label today), with particular focus on the influence of John Coltrane.

Like most books about music or musicians, the most interesting part is the early days when Creed Taylor created the label (then part of ABC records) and handed off the reins to Bob Thiele who produced such classics as Coltrane’s "A Love Supreme" and "Crescent" while ushering in the glory years of Impulse.

Ashley Khan's knowledge and understanding of jazz and his unabashed love for the Impulse sound and look make this book interesting reading. I particularly liked the thirty or so sidebar pieces that focus on specific releases, which are important to the history of the label and, for that matter, the history of jazz. He also spends considerable time on the very distinctive LP sleeve design characteristics that made these records stand out from the rest of the pack. Impulse records are great to listen to AND to look at.

The only caveat that I will give you regarding this book is that it may cause you to have an expensive jones to purchase some Impulse vinyl records. I know it did that to me.

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