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Deanna Witkowski marches on to the sound of some well-crafted tunes on her latest release, Length of Days. The pianist/vocalist blends standards, her own compositions, and a chilled-out, laid-back, and unusual, but endearing version of "Hi-Lili Hi-Lo, to winning effect.
Witkowski plays with clarity, never rushes, and keeps away from a welter of notes that could clog her flow. Her playing resonates with harmonic skill as she feeds a composition with ideas that permeate, fill, and extend into a becoming chain. She brings this to bear in a grabbing performance of "In The Still Of The Night, where she takes a luminous run, swinging lightly on the vine, and then slows down to get into some bluesy motifs. Time and pulse hold sway and lure with steady, emphatic accompaniment from bassist Dave Ambrosio and drummer Vince Cherico.
Donny McCaslin essays his presence on the soprano saxophone, his tone achingly beautiful on "Prayer For Linda, finding its consonance in Witkowski's wispy vocals for a right-on-the-spot complement. The mood is mostly sombre, but the music burns with an inner flame that forges a strong dynamic. The band does a good turn on "Straight, No Chaser, with McCaslin turning in quick ideas on the tenor, shifting trajectory, goaded by Cherico and Ambrosio, while Witkowski structures chords with her left hand and gives the impetus to absorbing phrases with her right for a stimulating take.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.