Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sacred Jazz of Deanna Witkowski

No doubt that pianist, vocalist, composer and winner of the 2002 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Deanna Witkowski is one of the more important sacred jazz artists today. With a very original and virtuous style, she mixes contemporary and latin jazz genres from a spiritual perspective.

Based in New York, Deanna has worked in different projects related with sacred jazz. The most important, is her album "From this Place", mainly focused on the liturgical music and featuring  to saxophonist  Donny McCaslin, bassist John Patitucci, drummer Scott Latzky and vocalists Laila Biali, Peter Eldridge, and Kate McGarry. Apart of this album, Deanna have recorded three others: Having To Ask, Wide Open Window and Length of Days.

Another sacred jazz project in which Deanna is involved, is the composition of congregational music: her compositions appears in the hymnals Singing the New Testament (Faith Alive) and Swing a New Song to the Lord (Presbybop). She also has received commissions for the 2010 United Methodist Women’s Assembly, the Rochester (NY) based women’s choir, Concentus, and the Northwestern College Jazz Ensemble.

Perhaps the most significant influence of Deanna is pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. In fact, she has participated with Dr. Tammy Kernodle, author of book "Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams", in academic lectures and concerts dedicated to the music of Williams.
Deanna brings a rare musical intelligence to the music of the liturgy, supporting the familiar texts of the church with inventive melodies and rich harmonic movement. She's a major talent who has much to offer to the worlds of jazz and faith.-
Bill Carter, jazz pianist and pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, PA.
Vulnerable, soulful depth through a graceful harmonic approach. This music is a gift and an inspiration to listeners everywhere seeking new songs and ideas for worship.-
Ike Sturm, assistant Director for the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter's Church, New York.

Deanna Witkowski's official website: