Born: 1946 Primary Instrument: Multi-instrumentalist
David Panton was born in the 1940s in the English Midlands where his formative musical experience revolved around singing in the local church choir and later with a mixed voice choir and an amateur operatic society. He began teaching himself 'classical' piano from the age of twelve and by fifteen had begun to compose by improvising at the keyboard. At seventeen he joined the army as a bandsman, taking up the oboe and being posted for a year to Kneller Hall, the Military School of Music (1964-65); later attending Birmingham School of Music for piano tuition under the late William Fellowes (1966-67). His composing continued but took on a more modern direction which was largely unintelligible to his military colleagues.
After four years as bandsman he resigned to pursue a musical career back in 'civvy' street, taking up the alto saxophone as a result of hearing some of the American and British 'free-jazz' players of the time such as Ornette Coleman and Mike Osborne. Although by the 70s he had received or given a handful of public performances of his fully composed works and continued to compose in this way, it was the free-form jazz area which he began to concentrate upon, forming several such groupings as well as giving solo performances at the Birmingham Arts Lab, Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham and Midlands Institue and numerous pubs. By now he had made contact with some of the London based musicians associated with this area such as John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Maggie Nichols which led to occasional appearances at The Little Theatre Club, Oval Arts Centre, Jazz Centre Society, Soho Poly etc and the launch of the NONDO label.
At about he same time he became a member of the contemporary/progressive/folk group FOREST during their last year of existence, touring with them in Holland and various recording sessions for the John Peel and Bob Harris Radio 1 programmes. Later he joined Southampton based experimental theatre group CHAMELEON LABORATORY THEATRE, to devise the musical content for their Amnesty International commission about political prisoners, and this together with another show based on the infamous Charles Manson Family toured as a double bill. The last productions he was involved in were a series of intense psychological vignettes which called for equally intense musical/sound effects, and an experimental performance from his own (literary) writings accompanied by totally improvised music. Some of these productions were also presented at the Little Theatre as well as Southampon venues.
In 1979 he received an Arts Council jazz bursary, allegedly the first provincal based musician to do so, and a second followed in 1981. The results were recorded with John Stevens and bassist Nick Stephens (also originally from the Midlands) for release on NONDO, and a BBC session for Jazz In Britain broadcast on Radio Three presented by Charles Fox, who had previously aired NONDO tracks on his Jazz Today record review programme. A second broadcast in 1983 also included other Midland based musicians he had been working with in various contexts, alongside John, Nick, Roger Turner and Harry Beckett.
In 1989 he started up an audio cassette duplication business, largely abandoning regular musical activities - apart from the occasional solo bag-piping gig, recording session on alto-sax or piano, and MIDI realisation/revision of his largely composed works. When the demise of the audio cassette undermined the viability of this business in the later 1990s he opted to take up a civil service post from which he retired in 2006. In 2009 he was awarded the MA in Music from the Open University. His work towards this included a project on 'Free Improvisation in Britain: What Is It, Where Did It Come From And How Has It Survived For Over Forty Years?'(2008), and a final dissertation on 'Modernism And Its Alledged Break With The Past'(2009).
The current project aims to catalogue and make available evidence of his activities over the years. Some recordings are being uploaded onto the pantonmusic channel on You Tube, and since NONDO/PM recordings are rare, where there is interest some of these and other archive recordings may be made available as one-off CD-Rs.
'...a musician who got his training in the army and found that the best way to resign was to get out of key on parades, he plays anything that comes to hand. At the moment it's alto, oboe and piano.' (John Fordham, Time Out, May 18-24 1973)
'...a talented young musician from Birmingham (England!)' (Martin Davidson,Jazz Journal, Vol.26 No.8, August 1973)
'...Panton usually plays a solo set on percussion, alto sax, violin and piano (inside and out), but for this concert restricted himself to the piano keyboard, producing a wild cascade of clusters, somewhat like Cecil Taylor speeded up, which were unexpectedly resolved in a deliciously corny ending.' (Martin Davidson,Jazz & Blues, Vol.3 No.6, September 1973)
'...British avant-gardist, Dave Panton, splitting notes on his alto saxophone and also providing the percussion effects. A real one-man band, in fact, which is probabably why he calls himself the One Music Ensemble.' (Charles Fox, Jazz Today, BBC Radio Three, 7 October 1975)
'...an excellent piano conceit on Monk with confident passages of stride, ragtime and clusters; he can play.' (Brian Case, Melody Maker, April 7 1979)
'A few years ago...Panton was playing totally free. Nowadays he's still using the methods that he used then but in what amounts to a composed framework. The results can be very effective...' (Charles Fox, Jazz Today, BBC Radio Three, 15 May 1979)
'Panton...is a wide ranging musician, working in free improvisation as well as jazz and various kinds of composition (some modernistic, some more like Faure than anthing else)...' (Peter Riley, Coda (The Jazz Magazine),Issue 172,1980)
'..provocative compositions by altoist-pianist Davd Panton...' (Loren Means, EAR, Vol 8, No. 4, Summer 1980)
'Good, strong stuff...' (Paul Kelly, Kelly's Eye, BRMB Radio, 26 July 1981)
'Panton, whose tone often resembles that of a classical saxophonist, play with real imagination...' (Barry Mcrae, Jazz Journal International, August 1981)
'...an alto player who shows the strong influence of Ornette Coleman (particularly around the the period of his mid-60s trio). Panton paces his solos well...and interacts with drummer Richards in the time honored (sic) John Coltrane/Elvin Jones tradition.' (Robert Innapollo, Cadence, The American Review of Jazz & Blues, Vol. 12 No.10, October 1986)
'Jazz of a tougher kind..Panton's reedy, eastern-sounding saxophone gyrating gradually more wildly before susiding over gritty drum outbursts.' (Christopher Morley,(Midlands)Arts Report, September 1988)
NONDO HTLP1370 (LP disc/cassette)
Tracks: 1-Wind '67 (Panton); 2-Symphony Four (Panton) 3-Monotony with Variations (Hakiel/Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (1/2),piano (frame)/voice (2), percussion (3). Simon Hakiel: piano (frame) (3). Jolyon Laycock: ring modulation (1).
ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE plus ROY ASHBURY BAND
NONDO DPEP001 (EP disc only)
Tracks: 1-This Side (Ashbury); 2-The Other Side (Panton); 3-Codabye (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (2), percussion (2), piano (3). NB: Panton only on tracks 2 & 3.
HOW YA DOIN?
NONDO DPLP003 (LP disc/cassette)
Tracks: 1-How Ya Doin? (Stevens/Watts); 2-Spittin' Down Brass (Panton); 3-Fall Guy (Steele); 4-Aesir (Steele); 5-This World (Panton); 6-Free Fall Guy (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (2,5,6), percussion (6); Anthony Pither: piano (5). Graham Lynock: tenor saxophone (2). Noel Warr: tenor saxophone (2). Jef Daw: guitar (2) Nick Solomon: cello (2); Phil Trickett: drums (2). NB: Panton amd associates only on tracks 2,5 & 6.
ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE
NONDO DPLP005 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Just A Little One (Panton/Steele); 2-Two Play (Panton); 3-World On A String (Arlen/Koehler); 4-Piece for Janice (Panton); 5-Les Pieces (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (2,5), piano (1,3,4); Anthony Pither: piano (2,5); Jan Steele: alto saxophone (1,3,5), flute (4).
ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE plus ASCENSION SEVEN
NONDO DPLP006 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Debris (Panton); 2-Humouresque (Panton); 3-Chase (Panton); 4-Gruncher Fried Rice No. 4 Harvey); 5-Gruncher Fried Rice No. 5 (Harvey).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (1), piano (1,2,3). NB: Panton only on tracks 1,2 & 3.
QUESTION OF SOLACE - ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE
NONDO DPLP007 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Autumn Solace (Panton); 2-Sonata '65; 3-Why D'you Avoid Me? (Panton); 4-I Love You/I Hate You (Panton); 5-Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Kern); 6-Sweet And Lovely (Arnhem/Tobias/Lemare); 7-Goodbye Song (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto sax (2), piano (3,4,5,6,7), radio (1); Anthony Pither: piano (2); Melvyn Poore: Tuba (1).
ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE
NONDO DPLP008 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Piece for Janice (Panton); 2-Night & Day (Porter); 3-I Get A Kick Out Of You (Porter); 4-Round Midnight (Monk); 5-Debris (Panton); 6-Scena (Panton); 7-Cloudy Seven (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (5,6,7); piano (1,2,3,4); Anthony Pither: piano (5,6,7); Nick Solomon: soprano sax (2,3), tenor saxophone (4,5,7), cello (6).
ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE LIVE AT ASTON UNIVERSITY CENTRE FOR THE ARTS
NONDO DPLP009 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Second Time Around (Panton); 2-Something For Lauraine (Panton); 3-Round Midnight (Monk); 4-Hell's Procession (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (2,4), piano (1,3), percussion (2,3); Jan Steele: alto saxophone (1,2,3), flute (2,4); Bob Jackson: tenor saxophone (1,2,3,4), percussion (1,4); Terry Parkinson: trumpet (1,2,3,4), flugal horn (2); John Adams: guitar (1,2,3,4), percussion (4); Janet Sherbourne: piano (2,4), voice (2), percussion (4); Anthony Pither: piano (2,4)
TO ABSENT FRIENDS - ONE MUSIC WORKSHOP ENSEMBLE
NONDO FMC1 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Helas pour Jef j'en sais bien (Panton); 2-Nii Noi (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (1,2), piano (1), percussion (2); Bob Jackson: tenor saxophone (1,2), percussion (2); Terry Parkinson: trumper (1,2), flugal horn (1), percussion (2); Andy Peate: trumpet (1,2); flugal horn (1), trombone (1,2), percusion (2); Bob Boucher: bass (1,2); Gary Randall: drums (1,2).
SPONTANEOUS MUSIC ENSEMBLE plus ONE MUSIC ENSEMBLE
NONDO FMC2 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Flower (Stevens); 2-Hello Enigma (Panton); 3-Dialogue (Panton); 4-Something for Lauraine (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (3,4,), piano (2); Terry Parkinson: flugal horn (3); Nii Noi Nortey: drums (4). NB: Panton and associates only on tracks 2,3, & 4.
ONE MUSIC TRIO
NONDO FMC3 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Bypass The Impasse (Panton); 2-Blues (January Suite)(Panton); 3-Snow Blossom Walks (January Suite) (Panton); 4-Bonjour Madeleine (January Suite) (Panton); 5-Fanfare for Albert (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone ((1,2,4,5), clarinet (3); Nick Stephens: electric bass; John Stevens: drums.
'TO ABSENT FRIENDS TOO' - ONE MUSIC WORKSHOP ORCHESTRA
NONDO FMC4 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Threnody (Panton); 2-Elegy (Panton); 3-As Time Goes By (Hupfield); 4-Burnt Carrots (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (1,2,4), piano (3); Bob Jackson: tenor saxophone; Terry Parkinson: trumpet/flugal horn; Andy Peate: trumpet/flugal horn; Bob Boucher: acoustic bass; Gary Randall - drums.
'FOR SOME CATS' - DAVE PANTON TRIO
NONDO FMC5 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-Where Are You Now?(Panton); 2-Lit (Panton); 3-So You're Back (Panton); 4-You Don't Have To (Panton); 5-Revolutionary Study (Panton); 6-Burnt Carrots (Panton); 7-Cool Miner (Panton); 8-Bedtime For Cats (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone, clarinet (6); Nick Stephens: acoustic/electric bass; John Stevens: drums, cornet (6).
ONE MUSIC TRIO
PANTON MUSIC PM185 (EP disc only)
Tracks: 1-Blues (January Suite)(Panton); 2-Fanfare for Albert (Panton); 3-By Pass The Impasse (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone; Nick Stephens: electric bass; John Stevens: drums.
DAVID PANTON TRIO/DUO
PANTON MUSIC PM186 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-So You're Back(Panton); 2-Fatherless Bairn/Blowers Green (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone; Fred Thelonious Baker: electric bass (1 only); Tony Richards: drums.
PANTON MUSIC PM187 (cassette)
Tracks: 1-Paradise Circus (Panton); 2-Alone At Barr Beacon (Panton); 3-Stormy Weather (Arlen/Koehler); 4-Monkspath (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone; Tony Richards: drums.
DAVID PANTON TRIO & SEPTET
PANTON MUSIC PM 188 (cassette only)
Tracks: 1-So You're Back (Panton); 2-Revolutionary Study (Panton); 3-Cool Minor (Panton); 4-Bedtime for Cats (Panton); 5-Thursday the Seventeenth (Panton); 6-Adieu (Panton); 7-You Don't Have To (Panton); 8-James P. (Panton); 9-Symphony Two (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone (1,3,4,6,7,9), clarinet (3,9), piano (2,5,8); plus associates: various.
DAVID PANTON SOLO SAXOPHONE
PANTON MUSIC PM189 (cassette only)
Tracks: Suite based on DH Lawrences 'The Woman Who Rode Away' plus original,traditional and standard tunes.
Personnel: David Panton: alto saxophone.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MUSIC OF DAVID PANTON
PANTON MUSIC PM1197
Tracks: Various 'classical' and jazz works covering the period 1964 to 1997.
Personnel: David Panton: commentary plus various live and MIDI instruments/personnel.
IMPROMPTUS & SONATAS - DAVID PANTON - ELECTRIC PIANO
PANTON MUSIC PM1104
Tracks: 1-Enters Venus (Panton); 2-Improvisation 1 (Panton); 3-Improvisation 2 (Panton); 4-Goodbye Song (Panton).
Personnel: David Panton: solo electric piano.
As A Side Musician
LESTER & THE BREW
LESTER RECORDS PL EP 01
Tracks: 1-A Bad Day At The City (Lester/Adams/Panton); 2-Eyesight Bad (Lester/Adams/Panton); 3-Red Door Knob (Lester/Adams/Panton); 4-Things To Do (Lester/Adams/Panton); 5-Be Kind To Worms Week (Lester/Adams/Panton); 6-Brain Damage Blues (Lester/Adams/Panton); 7-Waiting For The Sands To Run (Lester/Adams/Panton); 8-Action Painting (Lester/Adams/Panton).
Personnel: Paul Lester: Vocals and Words; John Adams; guitar, percussion; David Panton: alto saxophone, clarinet, oboe, percussion.
SLOWBURNER A Few Little Imperfection
Tracks: 2-Saviour (Bannister/Border/Bridgwater/Roper).
Personnel: Mike Bannister: guitars; Jim Border: bass, mandolin, 12-string; Paul Bridwater: vocals, harp, 12-string; Jase 'Les' Roper: drums; David Panton: alto saxophone - only on this track.
MESSTHETICS 103 D.I.Y. 77-81 MIDLANDS 1
Tracks: 17-A Bad Day At The City/Eyesight Bad (Lester/Adams/Panton).
Personnel: Paul Lester: voclas/words; John Adams: guitar, percussion; David Panton: percussion.
FOREST 'IN CONCERT'
Personnel: Adrian and Martin Welham: guitars. vocals; Dave Smith: bass guitar; Dave Panton: violin, viola, percussion, oboe, alto saxophone.
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