Soul Junction return to the long player format with Milwaukee outfit Impulse. Nothing Impulsive about the release that has been five decades in the making but it has been well worth the wait.
Impulse ‘Impulse!’ SJLP 5015
Release Date: Monday December 11th 2023
‘Impulse’ was a band of Milwaukee, Wisconsin musicians whose members included Michael Reese (Rhodes Piano and background vocals), Cedrick Rupert (Lead and Rhythm guitar), Jeffrey Williamson (Drums and background vocals) and Robin Gregory (Bass and background vocals). They would become a group in their own right with the eventual addition of another local artist John Gee, who joining them as their lead singer. John had begun performing secular music in the late 60’s with another Milwaukee group, The Chefs, who opened shows in Milwaukee for many distinguished touring acts James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, Betty Swan and Joe Simon. John also featured as lead singer on The Chef’s 1969 tour to Jamaica performing alongside Bob Marley and Toots & The Maytels. After nearly 4 years John announced his departure from The Chef’s during 1970 his replacement being Michael Moncrete (the group’s lead on their desirable 1973 funk outing “Mr Machine” Pro-Gress Records). A brief flirtation with psychedelia with a band called ‘Rebirth’ and another outfit ‘Stars & Strips’ followed before John finally joined the musicians of ‘Impulse’. The Impulse musicians had been busy working as the backing and touring band for another Milwaukee outfit, the vocal quartet, The ‘Quadraphonics’. The ‘Quadraphonics’ members included Myron Lee, Michael Westley, Kenny Lee and Billy Brooks who recorded the solitary 45 single “Betcha If You Check It Out/Prove My Love To You” for the Carl Davis/E. Rodney Jones owned ‘Innovation II’ Record label during 1974. This release would later be nationally distributed by the major Warner Brothers label. With import copies of “Innovation II” single finding their way into the UK. The record found favour with the soul aficionados within the Highland Room of the renowned Blackpool Mecca and this new found popularity of “Betcha If You Check It Out” led to the 45 gaining a UK release on John Abbey’s Contempo label.
During 1976 the members of Impulse migrated to Oakland California, they had hoped that, The ‘Quadraphonics’ would join them but instead ‘The Quadraphonics’ chose to remain in Milwaukee and eventually broke up. It was fellow Brewtown producer and recording artist Harvey Scales who was responsible for inviting ‘Impulse’ to the west coast. Under the auspice of Scales, Impulse recorded their self-titled debut album project at Wally Heider’s Studio in San Francisco. The album was initially offered to Casablanca Records but no firm interest was to materialise, a subsequent approach to Jerry “The Ice Man” Butlers newly formed Chicago label, Fountain Records again failed to secure a release of the album, sadly leaving the project unreleased in the can.
In the ensuing years, the former ‘Impulse’ members have continued with their respective careers, John Gee would embark on a solo career, recording the 1980 release “Not Enough Love Makin’/You Are That Man (Why Don’t You Be That Man)” for Leroy Smith’s Oakland C.A, Pashlo label (Although the songs were recorded in Milwaukee), the Pashlo 45 reputedly achieved sales of over 20,000 copies in and around the Bay area. Followed by the 1985 modern soul dance floor favourite “So Good To Me/Just Get On” recorded under the artist name of Jon Pierre Gee on his own newly formed Kandi Inc, Record label, released as a 45/12” single and cd album project. Later projects included the 1995 Jon Pierre Gee & Touch album and the 2005, AhVantSoul cd album project, both project’s featured Jon’s business and real-life partner, Kathryn Hannemann (a.k.a the performing artist Kat Webb).
Throughout all the aforementioned projects Jon continued to use and enjoy performing with his former fellow ‘Impulse’ musicians. They were still performing on occasion together as AhVantSoul until the 2020 Covid Pandemic hit, often to be found jamming in a renowned Milwaukee Restaurant/Coffee House by the name of ‘Coffee Makes You Black’ a popular haunt of many local musicians. Only two original members now survive Robin Gregory and Michael Reese both credited as “integral and inspirational” in every project that they and Jon Pierre collaborated on. Sadly, drummer Jeffrey Williamson passed away during 2015 with Coley Jackson coming in to pick up the sticks! Lead and Rhythm guitarist Cedrick Rupert left the group as the 1970’s came to a close to follow his heart and married a girl from Lake Charles, Louisiana, his home with the exception of a brief period of stay in Florida. Sadly, Cedrick passing away in 2020, his position in future projects was filled by Joe Chatman a key member of the ‘AhVantSoul’ project and later Rudy Jacobs the original lead guitarist with Harvey Scales & The 7 Sounds.
The Impulse album project having lain dormant since the 1970’s was resurrected during 2018 when Jon Pierre Gee in conjunction with Stephen Chin of Nice Choice Records (USA) and Soul Junction Records (UK) breathed new life into the project. Beginning with the release of the first of two ‘Impulse’ 45 singles on Jon’s Kandi imprint. Firstly “What’s that Sound/You Changed Me” followed in 2020 by a second 45 “I Really Love You/Get The Funk Off my Back” both to worldwide acclaim. Initial plans for the release of the whole album project had been set in place which where unfortunately brought to an unexpected halt with the passing of Jon Pierre in November 2020.
Jon leaves behind a musical legacy of several highly collectable 45 singles and cd albums. He was known for his raw energy, vocal range and agility, thoughtful lyrics, inspiring many generations of musicians and singers. Jon Pierre Gee will not only be missed as an exceptional artist but also how he touched everyone he worked with or met with his knowledge, kindness, and humanity.
It may have taken nearly five decades to bring this lost amazing soul and funk ‘Impulse’ project to life, but I’m sure once heard in it’s entirety the old adage of “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait” will certainly ring true, enjoy.
Words By David Welding.
With Acknowledgements to the late Jon Pierre Gee, Robin Gregory, Michael Reese & Kathryn Hannemann.
1.I Really Love You 4:38 (Full Length Studio Version)
2.Your Love Is Smokin’ 4:40 (Previously Unissued
3.What’s That Sound 4:48 (Full Length Studio Version)
4.Free To Be Me 5:28 (Previously Unissued
1.You Changed Me (Part 1 & 2) 7:10 (Full Length Studio Version
2. Nice Beat (Easy To Dance To) 5:28 (Previously Unissued
3.Get The Funk Off My Back 3:20
4.Get It From The Bottom 4:02 (Previously Unissued
More Info / Purchase options
Listen: Sample #1
Related Soul Source Articles