Deanna Witkowski takes the spiritual road on From This Place through gospel, Catholic liturgy, blues and jazz, and 19th century text to which she has written music.
Sacred music and jazz have come together through Mary Lou Williams and Duke Ellington, to name two, while John Coltrane brought in his own ardent beliefs to several of his compositions. Witkowski's sacerdotal calling is strongly manifested, particularly in the sincerity of her singing.
"Let My Prayer Rise (Psalm 141)" is a gospel tune with Donny McCaslin laying the groove on the tenor saxophone. His warmth embraces the innate fervor with Witkowski adding to the impact with her pure, soaring voice. McCaslin is comfortable in several situations and this is one more for him; he makes it a memorable experience.
Laila Biali and Kate McGarry join Witkowski on the a capella "Never Before," the purity of their harmonies circling and descending in a cloak of velvet. The words, written by Witkowski, are a testament to her faith and sound unabashedly naked in their sensibility; they harken back to the time when the human soul sought the spirit of the Lord and found communion with it. The mood is relaxed when Peter Eldridge turns up for a quartet to take on the joyous "Keep in Mind" accompanied by the piano and a melodic turn of phrase on the electric bass by John Patitucci. The juxtaposition of the two works well with the intensity of the first being calmed by the relaxing timbre of the second.
The modern does not escape her and Witkowski gives "Take My Life and Let it Be" and "Song of Simeon" straightforward contemporary turns. They are intensely personal evocations, but "Take My Life and Let It Be" may be in better form because of the harmonies.
Witkowski comes up solidly on the side of faith and those who lean towards religious music will be rewarded.
Track Listing: Let My Prayer Rise (Psalm 141); I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say; From This Place; Evening Mass: Kyrie; Evening Mass: Gloria; Evening Mass: Sanctus; Evening Mass: Agnus Dei; O, the Deep, Deep Love; Christ the Light; Never Before; Make Your Wonders Known; Pass Me Not; Keep In Mind; Take My Life and Let It Be; Song of Simeon.
Personnel: Deanna Witkowski: piano, vocals; Donny McCaslin: soprano and tenor saxophones; John Patitucci: acoustic and electric basses; Scott Latzky: drums; Laila Biali: vocals (5, 7, 10, 13); Peter Eldridge: vocals (5, 7, 13); Kate McGarry: vocals (5, 7, 10, 13).
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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