Beware of major multimedia conglomerates bearing gifts — not to mention press releases…
45th ANNIVERSARY OF IMPULSE RECORDS CELEBRATED
On June 6, the legendary Impulse record label will mark its 45th anniversary with the publication of the book The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records by Ashley Kahn; the release of 12 Best-Of Impulse CDs (including a 4-CD companion collection to the book); the national broadcast of the radio program The House That Trane Built (based on the book); and the kickoff of an international tour by the all-star group, McCoy Tyner Septet — An Impulse Tribute.
Which is all fine and good, to be sure. But why is Universal Music and Video (a.k.a. Verve Music Group, the current caretaker of the Impulse! Records catalog) releasing twelve (TWELVE!) lame compilation CDs? Especially when there are still hundreds of great Impulse! titles that have never been issued on CD, or – almost as frustrating – only as iTunes downloads and/or hard-to-find and ridiculously expensive Japanese import CDs.
Let's hope that before the 50th anniversary of this groundbreaking label five years from now, we fans of progressive jazz will have more to celebrate than another pile of irrelevant and unnecessary "best of" collections.
For starters, here are twelve Impulse! albums from the vaults that could have been reissued instead…
It's great that there's been a renewed interest in this singular artist lately, prompting the long overdue reissue of Ayler's somewhat polarizing late Impulse! albums Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe and New Grass in recent years. However, his posthumous The Last Album remains unreleased, except for one track included on that new Ayler Impulse Story compilation. Why not just reissue the whole album too?
Best known, if at all, as one of the saxophonists who played on John Coltrane's Ascension, Marion Brown is one of the great unsung post-Trane jazz artists. However, only one of his four Impulse! albums, Three for Shepp, has ever been issued on CD. It is particularly strange that Brown's "cult classic" Sweet Earth Flying remains unavailable, not to mention the first of his "Georgia Trilogy" albums, Geechee Recollections.
With all of the interest in Mrs. Coltrane's work lately, including her well-received new album Translinear Light, it seems odd that most of her Impulse! albums have only been issued on CD as outrageously expensive Japanese imports (or as iTunes downloads.) In particular, World Galaxy and Lord of Lords deserve to be more widely available.
While the Gil Evans Orchestra's Out of the Cool has appeared in several different CD versions over the years, the companion album, Into the Hot – which is just as interesting and also includes sessions by the Cecil Taylor Septet – is currently out of print. Why?
Several of this multi-instrumentalist and composer's Impulse! albums remain unissued, including one of his most interesting efforts, 1984. And yes, I realize you can download this and some other out-of-print Impulse! albums at the Verve Music Group website…but frankly some of us jazzheads don't know an iPod from an 8-track, and for about ten bucks I think I'd rather have a professionally produced CD with liner notes and cover art; wouldn't you?
The undisputed interstellar giant of avant-garde big band jazz has enjoyed a steady stream of reissues over the years, especially thanks to the Evidence label, who have unearthed and reissued rare and unreleased material from several of Sun Ra's Impulse! albums. But only Sun Ra's Space Is The Place has actually been reissued on Impulse!, and Astro Black from 1972 is still stagnating somewhere in the vaults.
For a while there, it seemed like the entire Pharoah Sanders Impulse! back catalog was going to be reissued, and with good reason. Unfortunately, however, Village of the Pharoahs, Live at the East, and Wisdom Through Music remain stubbornly unavailable on CD.
Shepp's numerous Impulse! albums have been re-released on CD in dribs and drabs over the years, yet many regrettably remain unissued, including this fine 1966 session.
Michael White's great album The Land of Spirit and Light was finally reissued on CD last year, but the rest of this innovative violinist and composer's Impulse! catalog is still curiously M.I.A.
Of course, this little personal "wish list" of a dozen albums represents only a tiny fraction of all the unreleased material in the immense Impulse! Records discography.
Come on, Universal — let's hear the full "Impulse! story" instead of just the so-called "best of" all over again!Powered by Sidelines