deanna witkowski

deanna witkowski


“Witkowski is not far from jazz stardom...Remember her name”--JazzTimes. “Her playing is consistently thrilling.”--All Music Guide. “One of the best of the new generation of jazz piano players.”--Jazz Journal International. “A major talent.”--Jazz Improv.


33-year-old pianist/composer/vocalist Deanna Witkowski, winner of the 2002 Great American Jazz Piano Competition and a past guest on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, looks to diverse musical worlds in her fusions of jazz, afro-latin, classical, and sacred music. Her 2003 recording, Wide Open Window, led reviewers to praise her playing as “consistently thrilling” (All Music Guide) and to name Witkowski as “one of the best of the new generation of jazz pianists” (Jazz Journal International). Highlights of Witkowski’s 2004/5 schedule have included leading her group at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Tel Aviv Opera House, and the Jacksonville and Rochester Jazz Festivals; touring as part of vocalist Lizz Wright’s quartet in Europe and the US; and teaching a course in jazz arranging in Frankfurt. Her new quartet release, Length of Days, has just been released on ArtistShare in November 2005.

Trained as a classical pianist and flutist, Witkowski didn't discover jazz until attending Wheaton College, in Illinois. Upon graduating she attended DePaul University in Chicago, but left her degree program to perform full time. Her wide-ranging interests expanded beyond jazz and classical: in 1996, she taught piano for a semester in Kenya, and shortly thereafter developed a fascination with Cuban music, studying with pianists Chucho Valdés and Hilario Durán. The results of her travels are in ample evidence on her first recording, Having to Ask, which received unusually strong reviews for a debut in the international jazz press.

Witkowski’s musical interests took another turn when she began coordinating an annual jazz service at Chicago’s LaSalle Street Church. Her interest in composing for the liturgy led to a three year position as music director at All Angels' Church in New York, where she moved in 1997. Her tenure at All Angels’ led to an extensive catalog of new liturgical music, including two jazz masses. Witkowski now serves as music director at Church of the Redeemer in Astoria, Queens, and continues to present her sacred music in churches around the country.

A sampling of Witkowski’s recent accomplishments illustrate the growing interest in her skills as a performer, composer, and bandleader: her quartet has performed at the Kennedy Center’s Women in Jazz Festival, the International Association for Jazz Education Conference, and on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday; she is a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop; her choral commission for the Rochester based choir, Concentus, received a November 2004 premiere; and she has performed with Fred Hersch in a duo piano series at New York’s Jazz Gallery.


As a leader:

Length of Days (ArtistShare- 2005)
Wide Open Window (Khaeon- 2003)
Having to Ask (Jazzline- 2000)

As a sideperson:

Great Spirit (Not Two- 2005)- James Finn Quartet