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Wide Open Window by Deanna Witkowski

Pianist and composer Deanna Witkowski melds elements of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music into her work.

In less capable hands, the combination would result in more confusion than fusion, but Witkowski get is right. She cooks up a hearty and spirited offering of songs on her second CD, "Wide Open Window."

Whether she is exploring Latin rhythms or finding undiscovered harmonics in an old classic, her jazz-based piano playing provides continuity throughout the 10-song disc.

Witkowski won the 2002 edition of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Add to her musical chops, some considerable life experience. At 30, she has already taught piano in Kenya, studied Cuban music with Chucho Valdes and served as music director at All Angels’ Episcopal Church in New York for three years. These wide-ranging experiences all come through in her music.

She kicks off the new disc with an innovative version of "All Through The Night," on which she gracefully shifts tempos and moods. It is one of three Cole Porter tunes on the album. In addition to playing piano, Witkowski provides wordless vocals on "From This Moment On." The third Porter offering is "Just One Of Those Things," performed at breakneck speed.

Five of Witkowski’s original compositions are featured on the CD. The playful title track, dedicated to Mary Lou Williams, provides room for not only Witkowski, but the other musicians to showcase their talents. She is joined on the CD by Donny McCaslin on saxophone, Jonathan Paul on bass and drummer Tom Hipskind.

Witkowski covers much ground on the album. "Speak My Name" has a bit of a cha-cha feel to it while "Sanctus" is a sacred composition that’s part of a larger mass. Each song on the album is lively and original.

"Wide Open Window" is outstanding.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Deanna Witkowski
  • CD Title: Wide Open Window
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Khaeon World Music
  • Tracks: All Through The Night, New August Tune, Wide Open Window, From This Moment On, A Rare Appearance, Speak My Name, Just One Of Those Things, You And The Night And The Music, A Wonderful Guy and Sanctus
  • Musicians: Deanna Witkowski (piano, vocals), Donny McCaslin (tenor and soprano saxophones), Jonathan Paul (bass) and Tom Hipskind (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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