If you read my post about A Charlie Brown Christmas, I mentioned that as a child I didn’t have much exposure to pure jazz music. That was for a couple of reasons. One, musicals were on high rotation in our house and two, there wasn’t any jazz whose target audience was children. Unfortunately, a few decades later, and there still isn’t a lot of jazz music for children. This is why I decided to highlight a couple of my favorite musicians creating jazz for children who released albums in the last bit of 2019.
For Part 1 of this two-part series, I’d like to introduce you to Diana Panton. Panton first came on the scene in 2005 as a performer for adults, but in 2017 she released I Believe in Little Things, her first album for children and families, which went on to win a JUNO award (the Canadian version of the GRAMMY). I was lucky to be able to interview Diana Panton for School Library Journal in July 2017 as well as review I Believe in Little Things.
In October 2019, Panton’s second album for children, ACheerful Little Earful was released. As with her previous album, Earful features Panton’s light and breezy solo voice, this time accompanied by George Shearing Quartet members, jazz greats Don Thompson and Reg Schwager. According to Panton, where I Believe in Little Things was a good way to unwind at the end of the day, A Cheerful Little Earful is “a sunny way to start the day!” And what better way to start the day than with opening track and South Pacific charmer, “Happy Talk.” Not one to shy away from unconventional song choices, Panton draws upon music from older musicals like “Look to the Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow as well as songs from classic films such as “It’s a Most Unusual Day” from A Date with Judy and the Academy Award nominee (1945) “Aren’t You Glad You’re You” from The Bells of St. Mary’s.
Along the way, Diana Panton further diversifies the selections on this fifteen track album, including “Red Red Robin,” the Cole Porter tune, “Experiment” and “ ‘A’ You’re Adorable.” Two not-to-be-missed tunes are the title track “A Cheerful Little Earful” which was originally made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and “All in the Golden Afternoon” from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland which Panton beautifully performs in both French and English.
A Cheerful Little Earful is the perfect way to not only introduce children to the warm, soothing sounds of jazz but to give them an introduction to the incomparable music from the Great American Songbook.