Diana Panton There are 6
Diana is being heralded as one of the brightest lights on the jazz scene today. Her aesthetic sense has attracted the attention of some of the jazz world’s most respected masters. When legendary Canadian multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson first heard Panton sing at age 19, he recommended she audition for the reputed jazz workshop at the Banff Center for the Arts (Canada). There, she studied under Norma Winstone (and in subsequent visits, Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton).
While at Banff, she was invited to perform with Thompson at the famed ”Blue Room”. “She really knocked me out that night, “ Thompson said. “She was so young but she had a lot of depth and real feeling. It surprised me right away.” Following that performance, Thompson told Panton to contact him when she was ready to record an album. She did—some 10 years later!
Before recording her first album, Panton first completed an honours masters degree in French literature and fulfilled a teaching engagement at the University of Paris (France), followed by a position as a sessional lecturer at McMaster University (Canada). She then completed a teaching degree. During this time, she also produced and performed a number of sold-out concerts with emerging jazz prodigy, pianist David Braid.
When the time finally arrived to go into the studio, national award-winning guitarist Reg Schwager was invited to join Don Thompson for some stellar accompaniment behind Panton’s pure vocals. The late great Montreal jazz critic Len Dobbin called …yesterday perhaps (2005) one of the finest debut CDs he had heard in years. Diana was featured on the cover VIEW Magazine and NOW Magazine. The album made the NOW Magazine’s TOP 10 Discs of the Year. This album was released in Japan in 2011 and was awarded the Silver Disc Award for Best Vocal Jazz Release of the year by the country’s prestigious Jazz Critique Magazine.
Success continued with Hamilton Music Awards, Juno and National Jazz Awards nominations for her sophomore release, if the moon turns green… (2007) - a thematic album about the moon and the stars. Diana was one of four jazz vocalists selected worldwide to showcase at the prestigious Jazz a Juan Revelations (Juan-les-Pins, France) where she was voted Premiere Dauphine by the Juan public. In 2011, the album made the Top 2 on the annual jazz sales chart for Eslite, Taiwan’s most important chain store.
Diana’s third album, pink (2009), is a narrative concept album about the twists and turns of new love. It features superb accompaniment once again from Reg Schwager and Don Thompson along with a highlight appearance from Canada’s premier horn player Guido Basso. The album was awarded a Silver Disc Award for Best Vocal Recording of 2010 by Japan’s Jazz Critique Magazine, as well as a nomination for Favourite Jazz Artist at the 2010 Canadian Independent Music Awards. The disc made the Top 3 annual jazz chart in Taiwan for best online CD sales in 2011.
Diana’s latest release, to Brazil with love (2011), is a tribute to the samba and bossa nova traditions of Brazil. The album features the most adventurous instrumentation to date. Maninho Costa and Silas Silva add Brazilian rhythms on drums and percussion, while Kiki Misumi on cello and Bill McBirnie on flute add colour and texture. Don and Reg are still the mainstay of the trio and provide delightful accompaniment and soloing throughout. The album appeared on a number of Best of 2011 lists, including those of Japan’s Jazz Critique Magazine, Tim Perlich, JAZZ.FM’s hosts Jaymz Bee and John Devenish. The album also ranked #1 for eight weeks on the jazz sales chart in Greater China and Singapore. All three of Diana’s most recent albums appeared simultaneously on the Top Ten jazz sales chart for 12 weeks in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The album was nominated for a JUNO, a Canadian Independent Music Award and an American Independent Music Award.
Since her initial CD release, Panton’s career has been gathering steady momentum. Her ethereal voice and strong aesthetic vision have garnered her numerous honours and appreciation from listeners, critics and musicians alike. Diana recently completed a successful tour of Western Canada with Canadian Jazz Masters Guido Basso, Reg Schwager and Don Thompson. The group performed to sold out rooms and made record-breaking CD sales along the way.
Panton is definitely a star on the rise and a singer to watch (and listen for).