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The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records [Hardcover]

Ashley Kahn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 July 2006
Noted jazz author Ashley Kahn brings to life the behind-the-scenes story of Impulse Records, one of the most significant record labels in the history of popular music. Kahn mingles engaging stories of corporate politics with insider accounts of music-making and anecdotal takes on particular albums. His history of Impulse is also the story of the genesis of an American art form and the evolution of the record industry through the tumultuous 1960s and will compel readers to seek out this label s masterful albums, says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. Kirkus Reviews calls the book a swinging read, adding that Kahn covers all the aesthetic, business, social, and historical bases with crisp economy. Don t miss the exciting inside scoop behind some of the most enduring masterpieces of jazz!"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (28 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058796
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 19.3 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,302,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A compelling new history" -- Observer Music Monthly

"This is a fascinating story, told in great detail by Kahn and in
a manner that keeps the reader hooked" -- Jazz Wise --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ashley Kahn is the author Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece and A Love Supreme: The Creation of John Coltrane's Classic Album, both published by Granta. He is a contributor to Rolling Stone, the New York Times and Mojo. He lives in New Jersey. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House That Trane Built 10 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ashley Kahn to me is one of the best Jazz writers that has appeared on the scene in recent years. His books on John Coltrane and Miles Davis have proved this - his depth of knowledge and research add a weight to all he writes.
I have a vast collection of Impulse records and met many of the musicians involved and have been lucky to see most perform live in venues that are no longer around. There was something nice about the Jazz era of the 60's.
Impulse recorded some great LPs and to see the label still re-issuing them many years later proves the Bob Thiele was so right in what he did.

This book is steeped in history and has many facts never known before or put into print about the label - the musicians and the recordings. Go out and purchase it you will not be dissapointed and if you can buy the CD set that links with this book. I am not one for compilations but this realy works giving the new listener an insight into what 'Impulse' did. I look forward to Ashleys new book on 'Blue Note' out later this year.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thorough Telling Of An Interesting Tale 31 Oct 2010
Impulse Records was a remarkable and interesting record label. Known to many Jazz fans as the home of John Coltrane's later (and most of his greatest) work, it survived him finding a home for an amazing number of quite far out avant-garde works until its demise in 1975. Considering this label was owned by a major media conglomerate and steeped in big business beauracracy it is all the more remarkable.

Ashley Khan's history is a well researched and well written book. As the story unflolds Khan gets its protagonists to illustrate the story whilst supporting this with detail and a good deal of understanding of what, in some cases, the untrained ear may describe as squalls of noise. There was a lot more to Impulse than this and the more mainstream artists may not have been so cool but were part of the history Khan is sympathetic to this throughout.

In addition to the story Khan selects records of note and gives in depth discussion of their creation and the context surrounding their recording and release. It adds another dimension to the book and an extra layer of pleasure thanks to his eclectic approach and a tenedancy to include more than the great pieces but some which are, arguably, not essential at all.

Anyone with an interest in the development of modern Jazz would be well served giving this book a look. An illuminating and enjoyable book written with not just a clear understanding but a genuine love of its subject.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kahn builds on prior Love Supreme work 16 July 2006
By jasoneducator - Published on Amazon.com
Ashley Kahn is carving out a serious niche for himself as a fans' chronicler of classic jazz CDs. I've found his works on "Kind of Blue" and "Love Supreme" helpful, and "House that Trane Built" expands the interviews and research he did for "Love Supreme" into a history that jazz fans will find insightful.

It's hard to move beyond Trane on Impulse. I've got most of his stuff for the label, and I'm hard pressed to think of albums that I listen to regularly outside of Trane from Impulse. Blues and the Abstract Truth comes to mind. Some Pharoah Sanders. I've been meaning to get Gil Evans Out of the Cool for awhile. But I haven't been collecting jazz much lately, and this book will inspire me to pick up some more stuff.

The story of this book is as much the producers of Impulse as it is 'Trane's work. I did not realize how Impulse differed from Blue Note in that it was born with the cash to make an immediate impact. Not only was it born with cash, but it was also born with an artist: Ray Charles, who hit with "One Mint Julep" on his album "Genius + Soul = Jazz". Creed Taylor, he of the more popular oriented CTI Records, shows a true heart for the music in his initial choices for impulse artists. Bob Thiele, however, is the costar of this book. Kahn goes through great pains to show how Thiele's opening up to Coltrane and avant-garde music helped give him the latitude and the courage to work with some of the more "out" artists like Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler.

For those readers who are new to jazz, a good way to decide whether you want to purchase the book would to be focus on the album sketches that are interspersed throughout the book. In the first two-thirds of the book, most of these are titles that jazz fans will recall with fondness. But there are some examples of albums that fell by the wayside like a Curtis Fuller orchestral session and some of the rock experiments that formed a small but significant part of Impulse's later years.

I dig this book. As a former musician, I'm always looking for background that helps to ground musicians in the history and tradition of the music. This book will help jazz fans understand how a jazz label can exist within a major conglomerate and still produce risk-taking music. One can only hope that somewhere someone can figure out to find similarly breathtaking music that can function as both commerce and art.

5 stars

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No jazz library would be complete 23 Sep 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
This is the 45th anniversary of the Impulse record label, and to mark the occasion is a powerful review THE HOUSE THAT TRANE BUILT: THE STORY OF IMPULSE RECORDS - which is, concurrently, a story of the roots of jazz recording. Paired with a 10 'best of Impulse' cd collection plus a 4-cd companion to the book, THE HOUSE THAT TRANE BUILT has also become a radio program and provides a close analysis of the relationship between jazz great John Coltrane and Impulse Records. Nearly two decades of artistic creation are chronicled from marketing wins and insider experiences - derived from interviews with over fifty musicians, industry executives and producers - to other powerful artists and recordings to evolve from the Impulse record label. In its heyday Impulse fostered new technologies, new sounds, and new artists: no jazz library would be complete without THE HOUSE THAT TRANE BUILT, which shows how all this was achieved.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview - nitpickers need not apply 28 Nov 2006
By anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
I'm glad someone came out with a behind the scenes look at Bob Thiele & Co. since I had not known much about him or read his book "What A Wonderful World" that came out a few years back.

The pictures of Van Gelder's studio are beyond words and some of the mini-reviews have inspired me to check out the likes of artists such as Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane. Even if it lacks any in-depth information about them, it gave me a taste for further investigation.

I guess if you are looking for a musical theory book, or a tome on race relations & guilt trips from the 1960s, then this book isn't for you. True, the music matters, but this is about a specific record label, not just any specific artists that were on it. Do a Google search and you will find plenty of other books out there about that.

Besides, if it weren't for the likes of "head white men in charge" (as another reviewer contemptuously put it) like Bob Thiele or Creed Taylor, Impulse would never have happened in the first place.

I consider it a valuable book for a newcomer who wants to be introduced to the subject.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a history of Impulse Records 17 July 2006
By Tapani Taka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For years I wondered why no one had written a history of Impulse Records - now I am indeed very happy to see it in my hands. It does a very good job of trailing the road to one of the greatest achievements in the history of modern jazz, and it is a good read for anyone interested in the music of Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp and other icons of jazz.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The House That Thiele Built 12 April 2007
By Bradley F. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Blue Note gets all the hype about jazz labels, but this book makes the convincing case that Impulse was every bit as influential in its recordings as that that other legendary jazz house. Coltrane, and the musicians around him, such as Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Alice Coltrane, were the bedrock of the Impulse label, and still are 45 years later. In more than 300 titles issued in its heyday of the '60s, Impulse built a library of timeless classics. Some big Impulse stars back then don't get their due today: Gabor Szabo, Pharoah Sanders and Gato Barbieri, to name three. But some of their Impulse titles are still available and worth looking for. This book centers on the producers: Bob Thiele, Creed Taylor, Ed Michel, Steve Backer and Michael Cuscuna, as architects of the label, but there are more than 30 two-page album profiles and ample interviews with many of the musicians. GRP did a great job reissuing Impulse titles a few years back when it owned the label. Jazz is primarily a reissue proposition today. But this book takes you back to when new jazz records had people talking. It's a fun nostalgia trip.
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