I have always loved the old bible story about the three wise men following a star that leads them to a humble manger and the baby inside of it, trusting in wisdom of the universe, written in the language of the stars, to lead them to something far beyond anything they would ever expect. You can really imagine how much improvising, and how much trust, would be needed to start a journey like that, and believe that their humble destination was really what they had been looking for.
For me, Deanna Witkowski and her trio colleagues, Scott Latzky (drums) and Daniel Foose (bass), embody that journey with this jazz arrangement of the beloved hymn, “We Three Kings” from her 2017 album Makes the Heart to Sing. Taking a lead sheet, a basic sketch of the melody written in chord progressions, they go on a musical journey together, trusting their skill and instincts along the way. In their own musical travels across a variety of key areas and rhythmic structures, this modern-day trio reveals its musical treasures to us. The familiar song becomes something extraordinary in the process.