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  • Jonathan Widran


When you name your stylistically eclectic, sensually soulful yet hard swinging quartet after the boundary around a black hole, things are bound to get cosmically and universally interesting when it comes time to transferring that live energy onto a debut album.

A longstanding Chicago based ensemble with a steady gig at a popular local venue, the Event Horizon Jazz Quartet is a dynamic jazz collective featuring four of the Windy City’s busiest musicians with mile-long jazz and pop resumes – Jim Kaczmarek (saxes, flute), Scott Mertens (piano and keyboards), Donn DeSanto (string bass) and Rick Vitek (drums).

While stirring up hard blasts of jazzy and sometimes Latin and samba energy balanced by subtle moments of tender reflection throughout, the group also blissfully showcases its sense of humor by centering their 11 track romp on the moody, mystical, polyrhythmic, ultra-trippy title track that truly immerses us in a dreamscape beyond the standard jazz parameters.

Beyond its scientific meaning, the term “event horizon” can also be defined as “a point of no return.” You’ll find yourself feeling that you’re there, egged on to explore further, multiple times as you venture deeper into the original repertoire driven by eight Kaczmarek tunes and three by Mertens that offer a different perspective. Maybe it’s Kaczmarek’s charming, whimsical soprano on the high-octane opener “Chelsea Playground” that’’ hook you in. Or the evolution on “Guess Not” from tender romance to raging sax fire. Or Merten’s wild, hypnotic electric piano jamming on the feisty “Escher Drive,” inspired by Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher.

Further down the line, you might find your emotions entangled in the Coltranesque lyricism of “Dark Waltz: When Sadness Comes,” Mertens’ rumbling “Black Samba,” the lush melancholy of “The Last Blue Jay,” penned in tribute to their departed friends Jay Manning and his wife, or the rambunctious Latin jazz closer “We Would Love To Have You.” Wherever you reach that “point of no return” with Event Horizon, you’ll always feel you’re on a journey where boundaries are blasted through and the fun lies on other paths beyond the beaten one.


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