Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Feature Thu Jan 18 2007

Jazz to Hear from Atavistic's Unheard Music Series

Chicago's Atavistic label and producer John Corbett continue mining the seemingly endless treasure trove of obscure European jazz and improv recordings with four new releases in their on-going Unheard Music Series.

Atavistic is re-releasing gems from the respected German FMP label under the "Archive FMP Edition" moniker and scores two big hits with two reissues by German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann.


The first, Alarm by the Peter Brötzmann Group, features a live 1981 recording of an international nine piece ensemble performing Brötzmann's composition of graphic instructions for a reaction to a nuclear emergency, and a brief blues set-closer based on Coltrane's Some Other Blues called "Jerry Sacem" composed by saxophonist Frank Wright. The album's title comes from the fact that the show was interrupted due to a bomb threat that halted the concert!

Brötzmann's group cooks throughout and the horns fill the soundfield with dense activity ranging from long tones to smart interjections by trumpeter Toshinori Kondo and a garrulous solo spot for trombonists Hannes Bauer and Alan Tomlinson in "Alarm, part 2." Pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach adds expert comping and sprays volleys of upper-register notes which cut through the mass of horns and churning yet detailed swing of bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo.


The second Brötzmann disc Pica Pica features the saxophonist along with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and drummer Gunter "Baby" Sommer live at a club in Cologne in 1982 during the "Jazzfest Unna". Brötzmann preferred this club as the liners point out because it was equipped with a 20-liter barrel of fresh beer, which was empty after the gig.

Well, the conditions were certainly right for a superb set and all three musicians shine brightly irregardless of alcohol consumption. Brötzmann and Mangelsdorff blend well together and their lines are supported by Sommer's buoyant, expressive drumming. Mangelsdorff integrates his trombone multphonics where he sings notes which playing others to produce chords and Sommer sets up killing vamps left and right and his vocal whoops and hollers clearly show these guys were enjoying themselves. A satisfying disc.


Also captured live and loose are the Swiss trio of Chistoph Gallio (soprano saxophone) of the group Day & Taxi, Urs Voerkel (piano and drums), and Peter K Frey (double bass and trombone) from a 1981 set at an improvisation workshop in Zurich entitled Tiegel which features 13 brief improvisations. Voerkel switches between piano and drums often, but I favored Voerkel on the later which provides the trio with a jittery propulsive swing while Frey's trombone adds a nice foil to Gallio's expert soprano lines.


The final release comes from recently deceased soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy's personal cassette archives of more than 300 live shows from 1975 to 2004 which are being cleared for release by Lacy's widow, musician Irene Aebi.

This installment entitled Steve Lacy Quintet Esteem and subtitled "The Leap: Steve Lacy Cassette Archives Vol. 1" starts at the earliest of Lacy's cassette collection with a live date recorded in Paris in 1975. The set features Lacy's regular working group at the time burning through 6 lengthy Lacy originals. The C90 cassette sound (headphones required) doesn't do justice to Lacy's tone, can barely contain the volcanic group sound which features eruptions by Lacy's foil saxophonist Steve Potts on alto and soprano. The music is ragged and glorious with all members comfortable and fearless with Lacy's charts. Let's hope the rest of Steve Lacy's cassettes are labeled and ready for release.
-Bob Holub

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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