Impuls – Apendix
from compilation “Jazzrocková dílna 2”, 1976, Panton 110598
produced by Karel Srp
original LP sleeve, designed by Joska Skalník
There was a time in the 1970s when the closest you could get to progressive Czechoslovak rock music was to buy a jazz record. If it wasn’t already sold out, that is. Instrumental jazz-rock was not just en vogue, it was also the safest way for Czechoslovak rock groups to obtain a licence for performing in public and – at least in some cases – to appear on records: they could impress the responsible committees with musicianship and there were no lyrics to rouse the censors. Luboš Andršt’s Energit was one of the best known examples for this strategy. On the other hand, some of established jazzmen decided to jump on the jazz-rock (in the widest sense) bandwagon as well, in order to gain additional audience, particularly among young listeners; a trend that actually happened all over the world. And then there was a young generation of unbiased musicians who already began to mix rock and jazz as a matter of course from the beginning.
The original Impuls initially got together around 1971 as Jazz Nova with trombonist Jindřich Dostál (ex-Framus Five), still with some focus on mainstream jazz. Some time later (the sources differ on the year, so it must have been between 1972 and 1974…) the keyboarder Pavel Kostiuk (1946, not this guy!), guitarist Zdeněk Fišer (1950), bass player Jan Vytrhlík (later with Energit) and drummer Jaromír Helešic (1947) changed both the group name and the sound after hearing the most recent records by Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or the Mahavishnu Orchestra with compatriot Jan Hammer. The new soloist eventually became Michal Gera (1949) on electric trumpet, but the rhythm section also used to work as live backing group, e.g. for the C&K Vocal sextet. Vytrhlík has been later replaced by Alexander Čihař and finally in 1976 František Uhlíř (1950) joined on double bass.
Impuls’s first vinyl appearance was on the legendary Panton compilation Jazzrocková dílna (Jazzrock Workshop) with the Hancock composition Sly and Corea’s Crystal Silence, a live recording from the 2nd Prague Jazz Days (PJD) festival in March 1975. The success of the PJD album gave the impuls (pun intended) to the even more legendary Panton seven inch Mini Jazz Klub series, with Impuls playing two original tunes on no. 7.
Gera’s composition Apendix (Appendix), one of Impuls’s funkiest tunes, comes from the compilation Jazzrocková dílna 2 (Jazzrock Workshop 2). Although that album was still inspired by the PJD, unlike volume 1 it has been produced as a studio recording where Impuls shared the grooves with fellow jazz-rockers Energit and Jazz Q. And although being a compilation, the whole album sounds surprisingly more homogeneous than many other regular records of that genre. Another track worth to point out is Energit’s opus magnum Superstimulátor.
Impuls recorded their well known self-titled debut LP in 1977. By then they have refined their original blend of jazz, rock, latin, funk and Slavic melodies even further, making that album one of the jazz-rock masterpieces even in global context. The group disbanded shortly thereafter, but each of the members eventually became a highly respected musician on his own on the European jazz scene. In the 1990s Fišer revived Impuls in almost original line-up and the group is still playing these days.
Jazzrocková dílna 2 is available on the web at various places.
I’ve even seen a copy on Dusty Groove this week. Unfortunately, the LP doesn’t seem to get cheaper as time passes by…
Impuls – Apendix