Yesterday, I finally worked my way through two stacks of incoming CDs that I had set aside for a listen. Among them was Diana Panton's new Solstice/Equinox. What a lovely surprise. Panton is a Canadian singer with a breathy, hip innocence reminiscent of Blossom Dearie. She also has great taste in songs. On her new 13-track album, Panton takes on the four seasons, starting with the green surprise of spring and ending with the bright orange of a winter fireplace. It's a clever approach that allows her to cover a wide range of music and moods.
On the album, Panton includes a clutch of familiar standards for those who want to hear something they recognize, including Estate," Manhattan," September in the Rain" and Tis Autumn". All are handled beautifully. The bliss begins when she takes on more off-beat material, such as Lerner and Lowe's The Heather on the Hill", Freddie Hubbard and Abby Lincoln's Up Jumped Spring," Joe Sherman and George David Weiss's That Sunday That Summer, Henri Salvador and Boris Vian's" La Fin Des Vacances, Sophie Makhno and Barbara's Septembre, Marvin Fisher and Joe McCarthy Jr.'s" Cloudy Morning, Patty McGovern's" I Like Snow" and the Jo Stafford holiday chestnut By the Fireside." She sings the French songs in French.
Panton's voice is precious on each and every song. She's also fortunate to have such a superb group behind her. Don Thompson plays piano, vibes and bass; Reg Schwager is on guitar; Phil Dwyer plays saxophones and Guido Basso is on flugelhorn and trumpet. But wait, here's the best part: Thompson is so good and deep that he recreates the George Shearing Quintet's sound on the intros to many of the songs. He must have recorded himself first on piano, adding the bass next and finally the vibes before Schwager recorded his guitar on top. Thompson and Schwager are so tight, you barely realize there isn't a drummer on the album.
What makes Panton special is that she's herself. You feel her relaxed, playfully personality throughout, and the quality of her voice is remarkable. And I love the Julie London Calendar Girl feel to the 12-month theme Panton chose and her seasonal photos in the liner notes. Solstice/Equinox is a perfect album for the weeks leading into the holidays and beyond. A voice that's as gentle as a doe but smart as a fox. Brava!
For contrast, here's the George Shearing Quintet's version from 1949...
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.