to Brazil with love
  • Diana Panton connects with her music
    Written by Rod Nicholson

    Panton has just released her fourth album, To Brazil With Love, an all bossa nova affair that expands on her previous occasional forays into the venerable Brazilian musical style. The original impetus to do a bossa nova album came from a member of her star-studded backing band (Don Thompson on bass/piano/vibes, Reg Schwager on guitar and Guido Basso on flugelhorn/trumpet/cornet).

    "It was Don’s suggestion. At a certain point he said 'You know, it would be really good if we did a whole album of bossa nova stuff' which for me is a little bit daunting because it's a whole other genre. But I felt like I was in very good hands because Don and Reg are really superb in that style and Reg invited the drummer and the percussionist who are both from Brazil originally and they were very encouraging during the whole recording process."

    Panton didn’t spend much time thinking about the fact that she was recording an entire album in a style differing in many ways from the majority of the traditional jazz songwriting canon she has primarily drawn on to date. As always, she followed her instinct for naturalism and allegiance to the feeling in the music that has been her strength and defining characteristic as a vocalist and let the songs light the way.

    "For me it's almost trying not to think too much because there's a certain naturalness that has to happen. I guess I could compare it to having to learn a dance. You want to look natural but you don't want to look like you're forcing it. Sometimes it's a different kind of dance than you're used to and you feel that. I think in some ways just relaxing is probably the best thing and just trying to feel it rather than think it."

    In keeping with her interest in trying new things Panton will be embarking on her first performing tour early in the new year with concert dates scheduled at venues in Western Canada. She is looking forward with anticipation to the shows and the opportunity to give audiences on the other side of the country a chance to see what she and the band have to offer.

    "It'll be the first tour that we've ever done and I am really pleased to be able to go with Don and Reg and Guido. I really believe in them, I think they're the best Canada has to offer and I think Canada deserves to hear them. I think it's just nice that they have a chance to do it, too. It's taking place during March break. Hopefully, it's not snowing too badly; you know it might be kind of a brutal time of year to travel."

    Panton is not taking any time to rest on the achievements of the past months, having this summer already completed recording and mixing the album slated to follow To Brazil With Love. She prefers to think a few albums ahead and spends significant time pondering on themes and concepts for future recording projects. Her fans can be sure that whatever those next few albums may involve, allegiance to emotion will always be paramount.

    "For me and what I'm trying to do, you have to make that song breathe and that does mean taking it inside and making it very intimate, otherwise it's not going to connect and then I can't even connect with it. It's just so organic, even the arrangements, they're just really fluid and they're feel-driven. For me that's why I sing, just to feel."