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From This Place
Artist: Deanna Witkowski (piano, vocal), Donny McCaslin (saxophones), John Patitucci (guitars), Scott Latzky (drums),  (vocals) Laila Biali, Peter Eldridge and Kate McGarry
Tilapia Records 16892-99932
Running Length: 59 minutes
15 Tracks
 
Deanna Witkowski is a compleat musician who has honed her skills in churches and jazz festivals. From This Place is her fourth CD album and first with religious music. Witkowski uses traditional hymn texts, which you may recognize only from their titles, and re-sets them (her term) to her own stylized melodies with a jazz flavor. Therefore, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” or “Pass Me Not” won’t necessarily sound familiar, at first, to your listening ear.
 
Utilizing saxophone, acoustic and electric basses, drums and vocals, Witkowski offers selections in jazz-land with inspirational longing. Beginning the nearly hour-long CD is “Let My Prayer Rise” (Psalm 141), an evening prayer, with Deanna on vocals and a melodic saxophone interlude. “Deep Deep Love” is  piano and drum, while “Make Your Wonders Known” highlights Witkowski’s precise voice. 
 
There are four parts of an evening jazz mass on this CD, “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” “Sanctus” and “Agnus Dei.” Of the four sections, “Sanctus” is softer and prayerful in setting. “From This Place,” the title of the CD, is a narrative from Mary Magdalene, but unfortunately, the vocal setting was low for Witkowski’s voice and all lyrics did not come through. 
 
What is a highlight of the CD are the songs utilizing women’s voices. “Keep in Mind, ” “Never Before” and “Take My Life and Let It Be” are especially compelling, with intricate harmony and meaningful words.  “Never Before” is something  Mary may have spoken after the angel told her she would be a mother. It is a poignant setting. 
 
A songbook to From This Place will be available in April at deannajazz.com. Enjoy.
 
Copyright 2009 Marie Asner 

 
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