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02 Diana PantonBlue
Diana Panton
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For jazz musicians, the “with strings” musical concept is often a bucket list goal. It is little wonder why. Not only have there been some incredibly satisfying recordings made with this instrumentation – Charlie Parker with Strings, Clifford Brown with Strings, Stan Getz’s Focus, to name but a few – but well-written string parts have an effervescent and lush quality capable of enlivening already swinging performances to new and exciting musical heights. 

Such is the case here on Diana Panton’s Blue. Captured again in the familiar company of longtime musical compatriots Don Thompson and Reg Schwager (this, their tenth recorded collaboration), Blue brings the talented bassist Jim Vivian into the core trio, fleshed out here by saxophonist Phil Dwyer. Great casting! 

Adding to the musical wonderment is the sweetening that Thompson’s beautiful arrangements for the great Penderecki String Quartet bring to the entire affair. How nice it is to hear this world-class chamber group, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Quartet-in-Residence, perform in such an intimate jazz setting. Speaking of setting, it would be difficult, perhaps, for any vocalist to come up short while fronting such a blue-chip ensemble. But such a risk was never a possibility with Panton, who once again leans into her strengths of crystalline phrasing and evocative lyrical nuance that she brings to a great set of music. It is a musical formula for success that has served her well on the previous nine releases, so why would this be any different.

The complimentary aspects of Blue contribute much to Panton’s already terrific discography, while the strings add just enough newness and musical freshness to uncork new possibilities for band and listener alike. Perhaps best of all, this new recording adds another important artifact into the canon of great Canadian jazz that documents the ongoing, and still developing, musical partnership of Panton and Thompson.

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