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.

Most Popular Impulse! Albums

Published in partnership with Impulse! Records.

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