By Tina Siegel, CKLU for the Lambda
Jazz vocalist Diana Panton has had a busy few years – she’s put out six albums, won a Juno Award, and toured from Medicine Hat to Vladivostock. When I ask her (over the phone) about the most surprising part of it all, she laughs, “that people like (my music).”
Turns out, there are a lot of people to whom Panton’s music appeals. Her voice has been described as ‘diaphanous’ and ‘ephemeral.’
She won a Juno Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album. To top it all off, she’s preparing for her first Japanese tour, which is already generating buzz. Fans are emailing her, saying how excited they are to see her perform live. It wasn’t a market that Panton targeted, so she counts this as another pleasant surprise.
And even with her busy schedule (Panton also daylights as a secondary school teacher in Hamilton), Panton travelled to Sudbury to headline the local Sudbury Jazz Festival, which took place Sept. 9 to Sept. 15.
Hearing about her vast performing experiences leads my to next question: what’s your favourite live-show moment? The answer: not the time Panton played in the south of France, with the Mediterranean in the background, but a 40-person house party in her hometown.
“I don’t relate so much to the place as the chemistry that’s happening on-stage,” she muses.
Panton admits to a slight preference for recording, though. It seems she’s a bit of a perfectionist. In the studio, she says, “the engineer has the sound just so, and there are no external factors to worry about.’ She enjoys honing in on the tone of her voice, the words she’s articulating – sometimes to the point of focusing on a single consonant.
“I like really subtle, detailed work. I’ve always been able to spend hours doing fine, detailed things.”
That focus has resulted in her seventh album, I Believe in Little Things. It’s a departure for Panton – a collection of children’s songs inspired by all the parents who put their kids to sleep with her music.
As the Jazz Festival performance brought her to Sudbury for the first time, Panton said she wanted to offer a range of material.
Joining her onstage were Guido Basso, Don Thompson, and Neil Swainson.