To Brazil With Love
Early on in her still relatively nascent career, Canadian vocalist Diana Panton had the great fortune, and good sense, to align herself with two outstanding jazz countrymen, multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson and guitarist Reg Schwager. It was Thompson who encouraged her to study at the Banff Centre, where her instructors included Norma Winstone, Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. Jordan has since likened Panton’s voice to “the sweetest bird you’ll ever hear.” Thompson and Schwager have been guiding forces on all her albums, including this, her fourth. Also onboard, alternating rudders to this sleek schooner, are Brazilian drummers and percussionists Maninho Costa and Silas Silva.
Panton does, indeed, have a delightfully sweet (though never cloying) sound, a tonal purity that is arrestingly beautiful. She is also a skilled linguist—her day job is teaching French—making this cross-cultural exploration all the more intriguing, and pleasurable. She serves up Brazilian gems in Portuguese (a sun-dappled “Samba Saravah” and buttery “Manha De Carnaval”) and English (the frisky “Telephone Song” and ebullient “So Nice”), augmented by French interpretations of “Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar” and “Você Abusou” and a bilingual (French/English) “A Felicidade.”
Additionally, she unfurls an exquisite “And I Love Her,” soft as a moonbeam, and, with Thompson’s assistance, makes an impressive songwriting debut with the gently swaying “Is It Really You?”