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Debut album from Event Horizon

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    Posted: 10 Aug 2020 at 8:12pm
 This one grabs you by the 2nd bar!

EVENT HORIZON JAZZ QUARTET is a Chicago-based group comprising four of the finest jazz musicians the Windy City has to offer. Reedman JIM KACZMAREK, keyboardist SCOTT MERTENS, bass player DONN DESANTO, and drummer RICK VITEK have played with some of the biggest names in jazz and pop. Their eponymous debut album is a collection of 11 original compositions written by either Kaczmarek or Mertens.
Event Horizon are regulars on the Chicago jazz scene with a steady gig at a popular local venue. They play a variety of musical styles but are always firmly rooted in jazz. The compositions of Kaczmarek and Mertens are mainstays in their live performances, but their tastes are eclectic. They also tap into tunes by a diverse range of songwriters, such as Lennon and McCartney, Keith Jarrett, Pharrell Williams, and Dave Brubeck.
The band members are all educators with roots in the Midwest. Kaczmarek is the driving force behind the band's creation, but he emphasizes "Although Scott and I contribute our original tunes, we're really a collective. Each band member has his own strengths and unique voice that shape every arrangement. Oftentimes, Rick or Donn will come up with an idea that largely changes and improves upon my original concept."
Jim Kaczmarek grew up in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. His parents were both artists, and he can't remember a time he didn't play the sax. He decided to become a professional musician when he was still in the 8th grade and began playing professionally when he was 16. He is deeply dedicated to music education and received a master's degree in Music from Northern Illinois University. He led the popular band Kinetic Shower that performed in the Milwaukee area in the 1980s until the early 90s. He also co-directed the Chicago Youth Jazz Ensemble with world renowned educator Ronald Carter for 12 years. The Ensemble performed with several top jazz players including Wynton Marsalis, Orber Davis, and Clark Terry, among others.
Kaczmarek moved to Chicago in 1995 to teach and become involved in the city's thriving jazz scene. He performed for over 15 years with The Buckinghams, who had major hits in the 1960s and are still going strong today, and he has been a member of the High Society Orchestra for over 17 years. He has performed with many different artists in many different styles over the years, including Diahann Carroll, The Milwaukee Symphony, Jerry Bergonzi, Bobby Shew, Pepper Adams, Tito Puente, Bob Mintzer, Annie and the Jazz Orphans, and Jack Grassel, to name a few.
Kaczmarek and Scott Mertens have been friends and musical compatriots for many years. Mertens also received a master's degree from Northern Illinois University, where he was a graduate assistant for Ronald Carter, who was the Director of Jazz Studies. Mertens hails from Missouri and has been playing jazz since middle school. Since moving to the Chicago area, he has been performing with many local groups, including include Event Horizon, the Jim Kanas Quartet, The Stone/Bratt Big Band, and the Nightshift Orchestra, among others. He has also performed with many top jazz artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Melton Mustafa, and Louie Bellson.
Donn DeSanto holds the Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University in Chicago and teaches bass at Chicago State University. He has studied classical bass with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and jazz bass with Ray Brown, Rufus Reid, and Niels-Henning ěrsted Pedersen. He is also the owner and operator of Bass Place Recording Studio, where Event Horizon recorded their album. He is a long-time member of Jazz on Planet Flippo, The John Moran Trio, Gold Coast Orchestra, and Brass Tracks Jazz Orchestra. He has also performed with many well-known artists, including Jon Faddis, Thad Jones, and Gary Novak, among others.
Rick Vitek is one of the most in-demand session players in the Midwest. Vitek moved to Chicago from Cleveland in 1981 and has not stopped working ever since. He has toured internationally with the Tom Fuller Band and with Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band. Has also performed and recorded with a Who's Who of top acts, including Richie Cole, Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano and Reggie Thomas. Mertens says of Vitek "Besides being a phenomenal drummer, he has an amazing sense of what makes the music pop. He not only makes suggestions on changing the rhythmic feel of a number, he also suggests changes to the arrangements and even the instrumentation for a particular song or piece of a song."
Kaczmarek wrote eight of the eleven tunes on this album, and Mertens wrote the remainder. EVENT HORIZON opens with Mertens' "Chelsea Playground." The tune starts with a simple melody that almost sounds like a children's song played by Kaczmarek on the soprano sax, but soon the energy changes into a high energy romp with Mertens' superb piano solo. "As I was writing this tune, I imagined a playground in the middle of a big city with kids running and playing and the traffic whizzing by them on all sides," says Mertens. His other compositions on this disc are "Escher Drive," which he conceptualized as an M.C. Escher painting that goes through many twists and turns but somehow takes you back to where you started, and "Black Samba," a straight-ahead samba with a plaintive melody.
Kaczmarek wrote "Guess Not" after a girlfriend broke up with him. The tune starts out with a romantic opener on piano and ends with an angry tenor solo that resembles the arc of their relationship. Kaczmarek had Coltrane's music going through his mind when he wrote "Dark Waltz: When Sadness Comes." The composition has a dark mood but ends on a major chord with a happy feel. "For me, this tune means that if you hang on long enough, you'll usually come out of the dark place where you've been living." Kaczmarek is an avid reader of physics and astronomy books and wrote "Event Horizon," the title tune, with a spacey, modern feel with a repeating descending chromatic passage that represents getting sucked into a black hole at its event horizon. "Great, There is No Love," a play on the jazz standard "There is No Greater Love," has a beatnik vibe enhanced by Kaczmarek's flute and Vitek's cool drum sounds derived from a combination of hand drumming and brushes. He wrote "Evening Mist" for his late brother's wedding and "The Last Blue Jay" for friends Jay Manning and his wife, who died tragically in a car accident. Kaczmarek wrote the Monk-ish "Strut" when he was with Kinetic Shower, and "We'd Be Happy to Have You" with a happy, calypso feel when he was offered a job he really wanted.
EVENT HORIZON is a richly textured album that encompasses a wide variety of styles and attitudes. Jim Kaczmarek and Scott Mertens are top-notch composers who deserve a wider audience. All four musicians, including Donn DeSanto and Rick Vitek, have created a joyful musical adventure through the entire range of human emotions.

EVENT HORIZON was released on May 29, 2020 and is available online everywhere.

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