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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Say It (Over And Over Again)

That's All

You're The Top

You're My Thrill

Make Yourself Comfortable

24 Hours A Day

The Island

Isn't That The Thing To Do

Who Cares?

Love Dance

I Know Why And So Do You

I Only Love Because Of You


Diana Panton (vocals): Phil Dwyer (saxophone): Reg Schwager (guitar): Don Thompson (piano): Jim Vivian (bass): Moshe Hammer and Praise Iam (violins): Diane Leung (viola): Coenraad Bloemendal (cello): Erica Goodman (harp): Harrison Kennedy (vocals; track5)

Recorded August 2012, Inception Sound Studios, Toronto

INAKUSTIK INAK 9129 CD [61:24]

This is the first album with strings for Canadian singer Diana Panton. Arranged by pianist and frequent collaborator Don Thompson, they’re used with romantic warmth but also necessary discretion and add to the romantic interest of a disc predicated on the idea of Love. With thirteen tracks, lasting just over an hour, it pays to have instrumental sophistication to hand, and fortunately we have that here in the shape of Thompson, saxophone player Phil Dwyer and an easy-swinging rhythm section.

The repertoire is quite fresh. There are big name composers and a few standards but a lot of somewhat less familiar material too, in deft arrangements, all of which lends a sense of newness to the recital. Say it Over and Over Again is a Loesser-McHugh tune and receives a ripe string arrangement from Thompson and a reverie of a solo from Dwyer. Panton, with her sweet, youthful tone and terminal vibrato reminds me more of Stacey Kent than Blossom Dearie – the latter is the singer with whom she has most often been compared. A particularly important cog in this band is guitarist Reg Schwager, whose crisp, springy accompaniment and chording has a Marty Grosz-like sense of engagement. Cole Porter’s You’re The Top sees a kind of Shearing-style guitar and vibes lock whilst the searching, Blues-tinged tenor playing on You’re My Thrill sits well with the interesting string layering.

24 Hours a Day is a more up-tempo charmer with full-toned bass playing and a tenor solo that reminds one a little of Scott Hamilton – though I wish this track hadn’t faded out. The wistful, lyric The Island is especially attractive, the band sounding tight-knit and the string playing cleverly full of tonal depth. But these felicities exist throughout and I could easily cite the laid-back feel of Who Cares? with refined strings, good guitar solo and ‘wan’ vocal, or the delightfully relaxed I Know Why and So Do You. On Make Yourself Comfortable Panton is joined by fellow vocalist Harrison Kennedy. The album ends with Amazing, a song by Norman Gimbel and Emil Stern, finely chosen for this disc, exceptionally beautiful, and deliciously played by all and sundry – Panton most prominently of course but don’t overlook Thompson’s limpid piano solo. He plays a similar role to the one David Newton played for Stacey Kent.

This is a thoroughly recommendable disc for lovers of great songs, charming arrangements, and fine singing and playing. Isn’t that everyone?

Jonathan Woolf

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