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Deanna Witkowski

On one level, pianist Deanna Witkowski’s Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns is a luminously lyrical trio session interpreting a spiritually charged body of music rarely investigated by jazz artists. But Witkowski, an award-winning composer, has a far more ambitious agenda than introducing the jazz world to the sizable treasure trove of hymns woven into the weekly liturgy of churches across the Anglosphere.

Makes the Heart to Sing is part of a larger project that includes the publication of a folio of Witkowski’s arrangements and videos of her trio performing them. “It’s an instrumental jazz trio record but the mission is to get this music played more widely outside of church,” she says, “and to bring these jazz interpretations into circulation inside churches. The album is almost a demo for church music directors, and the arrangements are meant for congregational singing.”

The winner of the 2002 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Witkowski has released six critically hailed albums over the past two decades, with each new project revealing a steadily evolving sensibility marked by melodic invention and emotional connection. As an accompanist, she’s toured with soul-steeped vocalist Lizz Wright and held down the piano chair for ten years in the Jim McNeely–led BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra. Her projects as a leader feature fellow heavyweights like bassist John Patitucci and saxophonist Donny McCaslin.

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Witkowski's playing is consistently thrilling, and her musical imagination seems boundless. -Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

If, among contemporary pianists, Brad Mehldau and Bill Charlap represent the gold standard, then Deanna Witkowski deservedly ranks as their sterling sister. -Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes

One of the best of the new generation of jazz piano players. -Bruce Crowther, Jazz Journal International

Witkowski is not far from jazz stardom with her keyboard techniques, her imaginative composing and arranging, and her wordless vocalizing. Remember her name. -Harvey Siders, JazzTimes

Primary Instrument

Piano

Location

New York City

Willing to teach

Advanced only

Photos

Albums

Makes the Heart to...

Tilapia Records
2017

buy

Raindrop:...

Tilapia Records
2014

buy

From This Place

Tilapia Records
2009

buy

Length of Days

ArtistShare
2005

buy

Wide Open Window

Khaeon World Music
2003

buy

Having To Ask

Jazzline
1999

buy

Kings of Orient (We Three Kings)

From: Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz...
By Deanna Witkowski

Light that Shimmers

From: Raindrop: Improvisations with...
By Deanna Witkowski

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