pink
  • Jazz Chanteuse Diana Panton Sings of New Love
    by ROD NICHOLSON, Scene Magazine, May 2010

    The music industry is an arena where egocentricity and “divas gone bad” behaviour is often the order of the day in the interests of revenue over artistic achievement. Happily for music fans who value genuine creative talent, there is always refreshing exceptions. An interesting case in point would be Canadian jazz chanteuse Diana Panton, whose growing reputation among both her fans and some well-known names in the field (among them jazz statesmen Yusef Lateef) has not altered a personal approach to creativity characterized by genuine modesty and a strong work ethic.

    Panton balances her artistic endeavours with a career as a high-school teacher in Hamilton that is the classic “day job”. To date, her extra-curricular musical adventures have produced three critically acclaimed albums (including her latest CD, pink, released in late 2009) and her backing band includes respected Canadian jazzers Don Thompson (piano), Guido Basso (trumpet) and Reg Schwager (guitar).

    Her Web site describes pink as “a narrative concept album about the twists and turns of new love.” To that end, Panton began with her ideas about the colour and then set about the task of selecting an initial list of 120 possible songs for the record and whittling them down to the 15 titles that made the final cut.

    “The idea really started with the colour, and then I was trying to figure out what that colour means. And that was what basically led me to the idea of “new love”. I thought it would be nice if there was a storyline. I picked the songs first and then sort of arranged them in a narrative,” said Panton.

    In keeping with her artistic view of seeing sounds and colours as closely allied sensory experiences, Panton decided that she would need to expand her sonic palette and bring in another instrumentalist whose playing would further enhance the listening experience she was trying to create. Enter one Guido Basso, internationally famed horn player extraordinaire and one of Canada’s finest musical exports.

    “When I got together with Don, I told him I was thinking of adding in one instrument just for the textural tonal colour. Within seconds he said there was only one person for pink, and that’s Guido Basso. So that was an easy decision. Don had given Guido the previous albums, which he liked, so he was a willing participant. I was really pleased with how it all worked out. I thought what he did with the horn and the tonal colours was just right. He’s fabulous; he’s out of this world.”

    The fact that she has both a full-time day job and an ongoing musical career that has garnered much praise and allowed her to put together a band that many Canadian jazz singers would love to work with doesn’t cause Panton to feel conflicted as to what course she should take. As always, care and deliberation are the key elements in any career moves on the horizon.

    “I am opting to do a little less teaching next year, which will leave more time for the music. The music business in a funny business and I know people who do it full-time and who do a good job at it and it’s still tough. So, for now, I’ll still keep the day job. I’m fairly happy right now with how things are.”