On Internet since 1999
The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!
Birka Jazz record store is closed but Birka Jazz Archive is still available. Scroll down and use the links to browse this comprehensive archive of rare jazz album covers
Edgy and experimentalIMPULSE was started by Creed Taylor in 1960 as a subsidiary label of ABC-Paramount. It was an edgy, experimental jazz label that became one of the most influential in jazz.
John Coltrane was the new label´s first major signing. He, and the other artists on Impulse, were given a great deal of artistic freedom. Coltrane recorded more than 20 albums for the label. During the course of his later years he was given carte blanche to record as often as he wished.
Superb sound and deluxe coversThe Impulse records are known for their superb sound by the engineer Rudy Van Gelder and not least for their deluxe gatefold covers, with distinctive design dominated by high quality photography and the orange-and-black on the cover spine and record label.
The graphic look was a result of a creative dialogue between producer Creed Taylor and designer Robert Flynn. Also ABC-Paramount's designer Fran Attaway was involved. The orange-and-black was chosen for its brightness, and for the fact that no other company employed it.
Cutting-edge photographersCreed Taylor credits Fran Attaway for the choice of colours and also for establishing the tradition of employing cutting-edge photographers for the covers. She brought in Peter Turner, Roy DeCarava, Charles Stewart, Arnold Newman among others whose portraits and images adorned the Impulse covers. Fran Attaway, then known as Fran Scott and the wife of clarinetist Tony Scott, soon left her job for travelling in Asia with her husband.
Also the founder and producer Creed Taylor left the company after a while. He found the initial sound and look, and produced the first six albums, then he went to Verve Records. He was succeeded by Bob Thiele, who came to produce most of the Impulse albums.
Bob Thiele and John Coltrane in 1963
The first Impulse album was "The Great Kai & J.J.". The cover was designed by Robert Flynn with a photo by Arnold Newman. Flynn continued to design numerous of covers during the 1960s. Impulse issued more than 300 albums into 1977. The company was sold to MCA Records in 1979.
ARNOLD NEWMAN is one of the 20th century´s most renowned portraits photographers. He pioneered the style to place the subject in a carefully composed setting, capturing the essence of their work and personality.
He was born in New York in 1918. From the 1940s he worked as a freelance photographer for magazines like Life, Newsweek, Times and New Yorker, among others.
He photographed leaders of world culture and society as well as everyday people and he took memorable portraits of famous people like John F. Kennedy, Igor Stavinsky, Pablo Picasso and many others.
CHARLES STEWART, also know as "Chuck", is an afro-american photographer from New York who has been a part of the jazz world since the early 1950s.
In his book "Chuck Stewart's Jazz Files" hed said that he probably worked for more record companies, and produced more photo-visuals for albums, than any other free-lance, independent photographer in the world.
His jazz photographs have also appeard in books and magazines, and he has worked in editorial, travel and fashion photography.
Among his finest work is the many covers for Impulse in the 1960s.
PETER TURNER´s fine jazz photography is best know as a result of his collaboration with producer Creed Taylor. Their relationship started with ABC-Paramount in the 1950s, and continued with Impulse, Verve and CTI.
Their work have graced some of finest album covers of the 1960's and 1970s. Pete Turner pushed the medium of photography to achieve an uncompromising statement in bold color and composition that became his signature.
The ABC-Paramount covers are found at
Various US labels (1)
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