April will be a month of resurrection and renewal for Impulse! Records: “The House That ‘Trane Built.” John Coltrane, the so-called builder, would be 85 this year. In remembrance of this and its own half-century anniversary, the label that signed Trane at the start of the 60’s will offer a new box set of albums from its first years, a week of performances of these albums and a traveling exhibition of Impulse! artifacts.
In it’s heyday, from 1961-76, Impulse! brought forth recordings featuring the likes of Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett. Now part of Universal’s Verve Music Group, the label gets revived from time to time for reissues, like the special collection due out this April 19: First Impulse: The Creed Taylor Collection, a four-disc set capturing the six records produced by the Impulse! founder.
Throughout the week following the release, a parade of all-stars will be performing tributes to these albums at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan. The “Impulse Nights” series begins on April 20 with Ravi Coltrane and Dave Liebman playing John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass, featuring Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart. On April 21, it’s Roy Hargrove leading an ensemble through Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and the Abstract Truth. On April 22, Ryan Truesdale will conduct a big band featuring Howard Johnson, Frank Kimbrough, Ben Monder and Clarence Penn in a performance of Gil Evans’ Out of the Cool.
Trombone is the star of the April 23 show for which Robin Eubanks will play from Kai Winding and JJ Johnson’s The Great Kai and JJ, and The Incredible Winding Trombones. On April 24, Henry Butler will close off the series by paying his respects to Ray Charles and his album, Genius + Soul = Jazz. Each night will feature sets at 7:30 and 9:30, with an 11:30 set on Friday and Saturday. Tickets to all performances are $35.
In addition to the discs and the shows, Impulse! is celebrating its legacy visually with an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia from its archives. This collection will travel to the Monterey and North Sea Jazz Festivals, among others. For Impulse!, it’s a season chalked full of favorite things.