Friday, August 21, 2009
New review of From This Place in JazzTimes!
Yesterday I happily found the new issue of JazzTimes in my mailbox. The magazine had ceased publication for a couple of months, and I was just happy to see it back in circulation. Flipping through its pages while on the subway, I thought, "I wonder if they've reviewed From This Place" -- and then I found my CD cover (with a review) on page 73! Since the review has not yet been posted on their website, I'm posting it here in its entirety.
Deanna Witkowski- From This Place- by Christopher Loudon (Aug/Sept JazzTimes)
Following the hallowed path of Mary Lou Williams, pianist and vocalist Deanna Witkowski devotes her fourth album exclusively to the blending of jazz and liturgy, drawing on scripture, the Mass, 19th-century poetry and original verses to build this expansive house of musical worship. Four notes into saxophonist Donny McCaslin's bluesy intro to "Let My Prayer Rise" it becomes evident how invigorating this marriage of secular and spiritual will be. With the slightly scorched purity of Witkowski's vocals (and the angelic virtuosity of her playing) as the central pillar, McCaslin, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Scott Latzky circle like impish altar boys, never irreverent yet eager to splash her white lace with vibrant daubs.
The cornerstone of From This Place is a four-part extraction from the evening jazz mass Witkowski wrote a decade ago for Manhattan's All Angels' Church (where she served as music director). For two segments, she forms a glorious union with vocalists Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry and Laila Biali to create what might fairly be called the Holy New York Voices. McGarry and Biali later return for the soaring a cappella "Never Before," which tells of the revelation to Mary that she will bear the Christ child. But perhaps most praiseworthy is the tracing of Mary Magdelene's Easter morning epiphany on the title track, begun in cold shadows then opening up like a glorious sunrise.