most popular impulse label albums

The Most Popular Impulse! Albums of All Time

Impulse! Records has reached an impressive milestone: 60 years of ground-breaking, influential, and iconic jazz music. To celebrate, we’re taking a closer look at the most popular albums released by the label. The ranking is determined by how many Discogs users’ have added the albums (more specifically, the Master Releases) to their Collections.

The list unearths some very obvious trends in genre, artists, and release year. For starters, Impulse! Records is a jazz label at its core, and one of its biggest artists is John Coltrane, who appears 25 times on this roundup — 17 more times than Pharoah Sanders, the second most popular artist below. Not only is that because Coltrane is one the most well-known jazz musicians of all time, but Impulse! and Coltrane are intrinsically tied. The label was launched by Creed Taylor in 1960 and Coltrane joined the fold in 1961 (as did famed producer Bob Thiele). To this day, Impulse! is often referred to as “the house that Trane built.”

When it comes to release year, the 1960s were the most popular decade by far — 1966, to be exact. Again, most of the ’60s belonged to Trane, which encompasses the height of his popularity and posthumous success following his tragic death in 1967. Other notable names from the 1960s and ’70s that appear several times on the list include Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and Sonny Rollins.

Titles that buck these trends include releases from blues artist John Lee Hooker and soul legend Ray Charles, as well as the soundtrack to the 1966 film Alfie that, although credited to jazz great Sonny Rollins, is still an unusual gem.

What’s more interesting, though, is how high some modern albums rank. Consider that older records — especially popular ones from Coltrane — have been repressed, reissued, and remastered several times over the years (sometimes by labels other than Impulse!), which leads to more copies of an album that inevitably wind up in more users’ Collections. However, new albums from the likes Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, and Shabaka and the Ancestors resonated with the Discogs Community so much that they have already been gobbled up by avid fans.

60 Most Popular Impulse! Albums

  1. Archie Shepp — Four for Trane (1965)
  2. John Coltrane — The Best of John Coltrane: His Greatest Years (1970)
  3. Archie Shepp — Mama Too Tight (1967)
  4. Gabor Szabo — The Sorcerer (1967)
  5. John Coltrane — Featuring Pharoah Sanders Live in Seattle (1971)
  6. John Coltrane — Ascension (Edition II) (1966)
  7. Sonny Rollins — Original Music from the Score “Alfie” (1966)
  8. Ahmad Jamal Trio — The Awakening (1970)
  9. John Coltrane — Transition (1970)
  10. Shabaka and the Ancestors — We Are Sent Here by History (2020)
  11. Sonny Rollins — East Broadway Run Down (1966)
  12. Gato Barbieri — Chapter One: Latin America (1973)
  13. Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins — Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (1963)
  14. Alice Coltrane — Universal Consciousness (1971)
  15. John Coltrane and Archie Shepp — New Thing at Newport (1966)
  16. John Coltrane — Selflessness Featuring My Favorite Things (1968)
  17. Albert Ayler — In Greenwich Village (1967)
  18. Pharoah Sanders — Black Unity (1972)
  19. Pharoah Sanders — Jewels of Thought (1969)
  20. Pharoah Sanders — Tauhid (1967)
  21. Max Roach — Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961)
  22. Alice Coltrane — World Galaxy (1972)
  23. Sonny Rollins — On Impulse! (1965)
  24. Archie Shepp — Fire Music (1965)
  25. Diana Krall — Love Scenes (1997)
  26. John Coltrane — Om (1967)
  27. John Coltrane Quartet — The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (1965)
  28. Alice Coltrane Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson — Ptah, the El Daoud (1970)
  29. Thelonious Monk — Palo Alto (2020)
  30. Ray Charles — Genius + Soul = Jazz (1961)
  31. John Lee Hooker — It Serve You Right to Suffer (1966)
  32. Diana Krall — All for You (A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio) (1996)
  33. Archie Shepp — Attica Blues (1972)
  34. John Coltrane — Expression (1967)
  35. Charlie Haden— Liberation Music Orchestra (1970)
  36. Gil Evans Orchestra — Out of the Cool (1961)
  37. John Coltrane — Kulu Sé Mama (1966)
  38. John Coltrane — Blue World (2019)
  39. Pharoah Sanders — Thembi (1971)
  40. John Coltrane — Meditations (1966)
  41. Sons of Kemet — Your Queen Is a Reptile (2018)
  42. John Coltrane — “Live” at the Village Vanguard (1962)
  43. John Coltrane — Impressions (1963)
  44. John Coltrane — Sun Ship (1971)
  45. John Coltrane Quartet — Africa / Brass (1961)
  46. John Coltrane — Live at the Village Vanguard Again! (1966)
  47. John Coltrane — Live at Birdland (1964)
  48. The Comet Is Coming — Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (2019)
  49. John Coltrane Quartet — Crescent (1964)
  50. Charles Mingus — Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1964)
  51. Pharoah Sanders — Karma (1969)
  52. John Coltrane Quartet — Coltrane (1962)
  53. Oliver Nelson — The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
  54. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman — John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (1963)
  55. Charles Mingus — The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
  56. Duke Ellington and John Coltrane — Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (1963)
  57. John Coltrane — Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (2018)
  58. Alice Coltrane Featuring Pharoah Sanders — Journey in Satchidananda (1971)
  59. John Coltrane Quartet — Ballads (1963)
  60. John Coltrane — A Love Supreme (1965)

Published in partnership with Impulse! Records.

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