HAMILTON, ONTARIO – Two-time JUNO Award winner Diana Panton has established herself as one of the brightest lights on the international jazz scene, a songbird praised by listeners, musicians, and critics alike for her thoughtful song selection and emotional intensity. Diana is pleased to announce the October 28 release of her tenth album, blue.
blue represents the culminating gesture in a musical narrative about romance that began with pink (Silver Disc Award winner in Japan), followed by RED (2015 JUNO winner). With release dates spanning more than a decade, this trilogy charts the emotional arc of an ill-fated romantic relationship. The eponymous colours symbolically suggest content: pink is the infatuation of first-time love, RED, the passion of true love, and blue, the heartbreak and mystery of love lost.
“The release dates were deliberately spread over a decade from the first to the final album in the trilogy in order for the music to better reflect different stages in a relationship,” says Diana Panton. “I knew that my voice and perspective would be more mature if I waited to record the blue album a little later in my life.”
blue showcases Diana Panton, exuding confidence and completely in command of her interpretive powers. Her lustrous, evocative vocals are backed by the artistry of four longtime musical colleagues who made significant contributions to the beauty and passion of the RED album of 2015. The four include three Order of Canada honourees: tenor saxophonist Phil Dwyer C.M., guitarist Reg Schwager C.M., and pianist/arranger Don Thompson O.C., plus first-call bassist Jim Vivian. The sonic landscape of blue also features the extraordinary talents of the Penderecki String Quartet, who acquired their name in 1986 upon the invitation of the great Polish composer himself.
Diana Panton’s tenth release is not a casual listen, but a penetrating delve into feelings that accompany the fragments of a broken relationship. “Where Do You Start?” shows that Panton knows precisely where to start, and that is by delivering the pure, unaccompanied poetry of her beautiful, clear voice with its bold superiority of interpretation and intonation. Pianist Don Thompson provides his own musical commentary to the quixotically titled “Where Do You Start?” and the pair segues into the haunting strains of the popular song from the ‘60s, “Once Upon a Time.”
Highlighting his interpretative gifts as a composer/arranger and pianist, talents required to create the unfiltered emotive content permeating blue, is Don Thompson’s work on “The Trouble with Hello is Goodbye.” This song from the ‘70s showcases the Penderecki String Quartet’s artistry, features a supremely emotive sax improv by Phil Dwyer, and underpins Diana Panton’s uncomplicated, honest way with a musical phrase. In “To Say Goodbye,” Panton dips into the rich lower register of her vocal range to capture the profound sadness of the song’s lyrics, an expression so true that the listener instinctively feels she is living every word. Also noteworthy is Diana Panton’s interpretation of Norma Winstone’s poignant lyrics for “Just Sometimes,” inspiring another flawless solo from tenor saxophonist Phil Dwyer.
Diana Panton’s unerring selection of repertoire for blue smoothly encapsulates the complete epoch of the Great American Songbook. In 1937’s “Without Your Love,” a lilting swing sets the backdrop for the tenor intro, followed by Diana Panton’s exquisite delivery of the charming melancholic lyrics. Listeners are treated to supremely creative improvisations from both Phil Dwyer and Reg Schwager before Panton offers a reprise that captures the very essence of 1930s sentiment. In a virtuosic display of stylistic contrast, Diana Panton chases “Without Your Love” with Stephen Sondheim’s mystical song of loss and disorientation from the 1970s, “Losing My Mind.” Panton again spins her interpretive skills to take listeners straight from the beginning of the ’70s to 1978’s “You Are There” by the great team of Dave Frishberg and Johnny Mandel.
In command of a keen aesthetic sense, Diana Panton has attracted the attention of some of the jazz world’s most respected masters. When legendary multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson first heard the nineteen-year-old Diana sing, with unabashed enthusiasm he urged her to audition for the renowned Banff Centre for the Arts Jazz Workshop. It was there that she studied under Norma Winstone, and, in subsequent visits, with Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. When the time arrived for her to go into the recording studio, award-winning guitarist Reg Schwager was invited to join Don Thompson in laying down a collaborative sound that has proved to be, on all of her albums, the perfect setting for the delicate nuance of Diana’s pure vocals. The late, great jazz critic Len Dobin called the product of that first session, …yesterday perhaps, one of the finest debut albums he had heard in years.
Since the release of that first album in 2005, Diana Panton’s career has gathered astounding momentum, drawing international acclaim for her nine albums and the impressive variety and quality of her catalogue of songs. The numerous honours garnered include JUNO Awards for RED in 2015 and I Believe in Little Things in 2017, two Silver Disc Awards in Japan, seven JUNO nominations, nine Hamilton Music Awards, and a host of National Jazz Award nominations and Canadian and American independent music award nominations. I Believe in Little Things charted simultaneously on Billboard’s Jazz and Children’s Music charts and went to #1 on Amazon’s “Movers and Shakers” chart, following an interview on NPR. The album received a four-star review in DownBeat magazine and was one of their Best Albums of 2016. Panton’s albums have made the year-end lists of ICI Musique, NOW Magazine, Jazz Critique Magazine, the Montreal Mirror, and DownBeat, among others, and, in addition to reaching #1 on Amazon and iTunes in Canada and the US, have made bestseller lists in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan.
blue will be available on all download and streaming services.
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Diana Panton – Vocals, producer
Phil Dwyer – Saxophone
Reg Schwager – Guitar
Don Thompson – Piano, arranger
Jim Vivian – Bass
Penderecki String Quartet:
Jerzy Kapłanek – Violin
Jeremy Bell – Violin
Christine Vlajk – Viola
Katie Schlaikjer – Cello
Chad Irschick – Engineer, Inception Sound Studios