Artist: DEANNA WITKOWSKI | Album: MAKES THE HEART TO SING: JAZZ HYMNS | Learn More: deannawitkowski.com
There are times when only an instrumental will do. Jazz fills a need in worship and praise in so many ways from improvisation to the subtle dance the keys of a piano can make as it sways with the upright bass and intoxicates with the held down in the pocket brush of the drum. Deanna Witkowski is both an outstanding player and composer with credentials that span from Chicago’s Wheaton College to New York City and Makes the Heart to Sing invites you to the table of excellence. God is in it all with many of the classical pieces being hymns and worship songs from Beethoven to Bill Evans. Jazz is described as the true music genre that originated deep in the African-American communities of New Orleans and the southern United States, throughout the late 19th and bridging the early 20th centuries.
The album opens with the beautiful luxurious Welsh tune “Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah),” that takes quixotic turns with the heart moving upright bass. The Bill Evans ballad “There is a Balm in Gilead” and gorgeous “Beach Spring” are noteworthy and worth the price of admission alone. “Holy, Holy, Holy” pays homage to Duke Ellington while the up-tempo “Foundation (How Firm a Foundation)” is a clinic on the majestic tonal phrasing of ivory at its best with gospel sensibilities. “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian,” is another standout and reminds the listener of jazz great Ellis Marsalis’s early work that married gospel and jazz in intimate and intricate ways.
“We Three Kings” grooves with swinging confidence and expertise that is breathtaking. “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is Witkowski at her best with a classic from the Ninth Symphony. Makes the Heart to Sing is a beautiful and poetic work of art that is beyond five stars and should be a listening requirement for those who want to lift their jazz influence to another level. Witkowski’s media site is thorough and educational. As a musician, let Makes the Heart to Sing left me inspired. As a writer, I felt satisfied and convicted. As a Christian, this album gives me a greater walk with Thee. Give this album a listen and pass it on!