Diana Panton is one of the best kept secrets of the jazz community. Over the course of her now twelve-year career, she has crafted songs (and albums) that have entertained children and adults alike around the nation and the world. Now early next month, she will continue that success when she releases her latest album Solstice/Equinox. Scheduled to be released Friday, Nov. 3, Panton’s latest full-length studio recording, which sets the themes of life and love against the changing seasons (this the title), is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one more of the year’s top new albums overall. That is evident right from the album’s outset in ‘They Say It’s Spring.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘September in Rain,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another example of what makes Solstice/Equinox such a stunning jazz album and will be discussed later. The album’s gentle closer ‘By The Fireside’ is one more example of what makes this eighth offering from Panton such an impressive new effort. Between that song, the others noted and those not noted, the whole of this album proves both musically and lyrically to be an album that audiences will enjoy the whole year through.
Diana Panton’s eighth full-length studio recording Solstice/Equinox is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall. It is a record that jazz aficionados will enjoy the whole year through. That is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘They Say It’s Spring.’ Musically speaking, this song is a wonderful first statement from Panton this time out. Its light, bouncy approach complete with soprano sax and guitar couples with Panton’s gentle vocal delivery to conjure thoughts of Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, and to a slightly lesser extent, Yellowjackets. That light, easygoing arrangement couples perfectly with the song’s equally upbeat lyrical content to make the song even more of a solid start for the album.
Panton sings happily here “They say it’s spring/This feeling light as a feather/They say this thing/This magic we share together/Came with the weather, too/They say it’s May/That may be daft as a daisy/It’s May they say/That gave the whole world this crazy/Heaveny, hazy hue/On a lark/On a wing/On the spark of a firefly’s fling/yet to me/This must be more than a seasonal thing/Could it be spring/Those bells that I can hear ringing/It may be spring/But when the robin starts singing/You’re what I’m clinging to/Though they say it’s spring/It’s you.” These are the words of someone happy and warm not just from the weather but from positive thoughts of life. It is truly an uplifting statement that when coupled, again, with the song’s equally light arrangement, is certain to make any listener feel just as happy as Panton. Keeping this in mind, it is just one of the songs that exemplifies what makes Solstice/Equinox another hugely successful effort from Panton. ‘September in Rain’ is another example of what makes Solstice/Equinox so enjoyable.
‘September in Rain’ is another impressive addition to Panton’s new album thanks in part to its own musical arrangement. The gentle piano runs, drums and vibraphone that collectively form the arrangement’s foundation instantly conjure thoughts of the greatest works from Lionel Hampton and his band crafted so many years ago. Yet again, the addition of Panton’s vocal delivery to that arrangement gives jazz aficionados the best of jazz’s past and present in one neat package. In listening to the song’s arrangement, one must agree how expertly it mirrors the still light feeling felt in early September as summer gently gives way to fall. Once again, that light energy is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face as it creates thoughts of someone walking along in the rain as the sunlight tries to peer through the clouds on the back-end of a light shower. Again, it is only one part of what makes the song stand out. The song’s lyrical content adds its own touch to the whole.
Panton sings here, alongside that upbeat musical arrangement, “The leaves of brown came tumbling down/Remember/In September/In the rain/the sun went out just like a dying ember/That September/In the rain/To every word of love I heard you whisper/the raindrops seem to play our sweet refrain/Though spring is here, to me it’s September/That September in the rain.” This is only the song’s lead verse, but it leaves no doubt why the song’s subject (and arrangement) are so upbeat. This is someone having that happy memory of when love first set in, making the rains of September something more positive than negative. In all honesty, the visual that the combination of this verse and its musical companion creates in the theater of the mind plays out like something from a Hallmark movie. That is not bad. But it shows how easily with its simplicity that the whole of those elements creates such a positive and vivid picture. Panton goes on to sing in the song’s second verse in French, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that even without an English interpretation, the happiness in the verse. Keeping that in mind, the positive energy in the song’s lyrical is just as prevalent here as in the song’s lead verse. When the song’s lyrical content is coupled with the song’s equally light and airy musical arrangement, the whole of the elements show completely why this song is another key addition to Panton’s new album. It still is not the last of the album’s most notable additions. The album’s finale, ‘By The Fireside’ is one more example of what makes Solstice/Equinox deserving of applause.
‘By The Fireside’ is just as solid a finale for Panton’s new album as ‘They Say It’s Spring’ is an opener. It stands out starkly (in the best way possible) from its counterparts because of its own gentle arrangement. The very title creates thoughts of a couple sitting together…well…by the fireside on a cold winter’s day (or maybe even evening). As with ‘September in Rain,’ the use of the vibraphone and the piano once again conjures thoughts of so many great works from Lionel Hampton and company. They collectively do plenty on their own to create the vivid image of two people together on a cold winter’s night in front of a blazing fireplace. The song’s lyrical content enriches that image even more as Panton sings, “In the glow/By the fireside/With you/I’ll be content/In the glow/By the fireside/Every hour will be well-spent/We’ll see our hopes and dreams, dear/Like pictures in the fire/Finding…our heart’s desire.” She goes on just as gently alongside her fellow musicians throughout the rest of the song. Needless to say, the dreamy situation created by her own words and by the song’s musical arrangement is the stuff – again – of Hallmark movies, ensuring its enjoyment by Panton’s key audiences. Even with that in mind, it does not detract from the song by any means. It only makes it stand out that much more along with the album in whole. When the romantic mood set by this song is joined with the varying moods exhibited musically and lyrically throughout the rest of the album, the whole of those moods makes the record in whole a sure hit for jazz aficionados across the board throughout the seasons.
From start to finish, Diana Panton’s latest full-length studio recording Solstice/equinox proves to be a record that will appeal to jazz aficionados across the board throughout each season. That has already been pointed out in the songs noted above. Those songs are only a snapshot of what makes this album so enjoyable. The musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the album change throughout. From the somewhat melancholy of ‘Cloudy Morning,’ to the bittersweet vibe of ‘La Fin Des Vacances’ (the end of the vacation in English) to the smooth sense of ‘’Tis Autumn,’ and beyond, Solstice/Equinox takes listeners on a journey that is enjoyable in every moment. By the time the album ends, listeners will agree that there is so much to appreciate about this record. In turn they will agree (hopefully) that Solstice/Equinox is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one more of the year’s top new albums overall. It will be released Friday, Nov. 3 in stores and online. More information on Solstice/equinox is available online now along with all of Diana Panton’s latest news and more at:
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