Alex Pangman
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Alex Pangman

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR | AFM
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It would be hard to find a box of musical bonbons more beguiling than this collection of post-Jazz Age treats. In her album notes, swinging singer Pangman writes, “What a joy to play with these guys. What a joy to sing with these lungs.” Every breath and note on this upbeat disc affirms the new life that Pangman got with a new set of lungs three years ago. She passes on that new life to 10 pop/jazz hits from 1933, the best-known of which is “Honeysuckle Rose.” Her earnest vocals and sharp Alleycats band make each song sparkle. It's a treat to hear Ron Sexsmith join her on “I Surrender, Dear,” and Denzal Sinclaire on “You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me.” Sounding totally period-authentic is Pangman's own creation, “As Lovely Lovers Do” but the finest song is the vintage “A Hundred Years Today”: “Why crave a penthouse that's fit for a queen?/ You're nearer heaven on Mother Earth's green . . . ” Amen to that. Pangman's next Toronto gigs are May 5 at the Reservoir Lounge and a May 12 live-to-air broadcast on Jazz.FM. - The Star.com


33
Alex Pangman

Alex Pangman, known as Canada's Sweetheart of Swing, is touring Canada with her brand new recording, and making a two-day stop at the Medicine Hat JazzFest. The CD titled "33," reflects the age Alex was at as she recorded this music, and also the fact that all but one of the numbers (a Pangman original) were popular during the year 1933.
Although Pangman grew up a couple of generations late to have sung with Teddy Wilson, the vibrant young vocalist possesses the taste, talent and historical knowledge to breathe new life into the standards of the classic jazz era.
With a voice that sounds like it belongs alongside the Andrews Sisters, Pangman is fast making a name for herself not only in the jazz clubs, but upscale nightclubs, dance halls and concert theatres across the country. Pangman's obsession with early jazz began in her teens when she discovered the recordings of Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden along with singers like Mildred Bailey, Julia Lee and Maxine Sullivan. Her pursuit of the music of the '20s and '30s led to her connection with guitar great Jeff Healey who recognized her talent and produced her first two albums, "They Say" from 1999 and "You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming," completed in 2001.
Awarded Songwriter of the Year by the National Jazz Awards in 2001 for her song "Lullaby," written for the film "Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story," Pangman received two more nominations in the Vocalist of the Year category. Her performance for the 2003 film "Falling Angels" won a Genie for Best Original Song.
"33" was just released in April and is getting attention across the country. Tunes included are "I Found A New Baby," "Ain't Cha Glad," "A Hundred Years From Today," "Thanks," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Happy As the Day is Long," "Shine," "I Surrender Dear," "As Lovely Lovers Do" (the Pangman original), "Hummin' To Myself" and "You Brought a New Kind of Love To Me."
Special guest appearances are made on this CD by Ron Sexsmith and Denzal Sinclaire. The CD has a lovely up-beat and playful feel.
Signing with the prestigious Montreal jazz label Justin Time Records is another huge step forward for Pangman and another testament to the talent, dedication and potential of this young Canadian vocalist.
Pangman will be appearing at the Medicine Hat JazzFest on Wednesday, June 22 in a 7:30 p.m. feature performance in the Esplanade Studio Theatre. She will also be conducting a workshop on Thursday, June 23 at 2 p.m. in the Esplanade Studio Theatre. This is open to the public for $5 at the door and gives an opportunity to get behind the music and the musician, ask questions, and learn more about what makes this musician tick.
Joining Pangman will be Drew Jurecka on fiddle and alto sax, Peter Hill on piano, Chris Banks on bass and Glen Anderson on drums. This is a show that usually sells out at JazzFest, so early ticket purchase is advised. All tickets and passes are on sale through Esplanade outlets including www.tixx.ca. Full details of all JazzFest events including sound files of all artists and a downloadable brochure are available at www.medicinehatjazzfest.com.
- Medicine Hat News


"In Alex Pangman's musical world, hot tunes flow like bathtub gin in a back-alley speakeasy. She roars through a repertoire of vintage swing and blues, possessed by the coltish spirit of a young Mildred Bailey or Ella Fitzgerald. There are champagne bubbles in Pangman's voice as she growls, sighs and wears her heart on her sleeve. There's a lot of nudging and winking with today's neo-trad jazz stylists. Not Pangman. She plays it straight and she plays for keeps."
The Montreal Gazette

"It's time-travel magic whenever Alex Pangman breathes into a microphone and evokes the great jazz femmes of the 1920s, 30s and 40s."
The Toronto Star

"La crème du jazz Canadien"
CBC/Radio Canada

"I have rarely been so knocked out by a first impression of a singer as I was with Alex Pangman. She's the greatest current exponent of the classic American song."
Jeff Healey

"Alex is without a doubt one of the best interpreters of material dating back to the early roots of jazz. She sings with conviction and like Mildred Bailey in the early 1930's Alex has a means of setting benchmarks for the music and has developed a style that is instantly recognizable."
Jazz Canadiana
"I think Alex Pangman is one of Canada's national treasures. Her music is timeless, her voice is priceless, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather listen to..."
Jaymz Bee, JAZZ.FM91
- Various


Alex Pangman singing again after double lung transplant
By Fish Griwkowsky, edmontonjournal.comJune 27, 2011
Toronto jazz singer Alex Pangman was born with cystic fibrosis and in 2008 had both her lungs replaced. She’s back on stage and will play the Yardbird Suite on June 28, 2011, as part of the Edmonton International Jazz Festival.
EDMONTON — Alex Pangman sings vintage jazz with her own voice — but with someone else’s lungs.
Her story is one of perseverance, life riding on a coin flip, but, above all, on beautiful, undying Depression-era music. The young Toronto musician — playing the Yardbird Suite on Tuesday night — was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby, yet has lived her life to its fullest — riding horses competitively, stoking her singing career and having her first album produced by the legendary Jeff Healy in 1999. But her body insisted on its own destructive agenda.
“By my 30s, I basically whittled away to about 25 per cent,” she says over the phone from Victoria.
The walls were closing in. At that point, Pangman and her songbird voice had won Songwriter of the Year honours at the National Jazz Awards and a Genie for a performance in the period film Falling Angels. Her hard work touring and recording in the style of classic American singers had earned her the name Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing. She’d even joined a swinging country band.
But she kept her illness a secret. “I didn’t think it was very romantic to have a jazz singer who was spitting up blood in the corner,” says the redhead. “I’d been pretty handicapped for my last few years, using an oxygen tank. My world had become really small, and while I could still sort of sing, it was becoming increasingly clear that I was racing towards the finish. I didn’t want anyone to know.”
A double lung transplant is an extremely hard choice for anyone to consider, never mind a singer just a few years into her career.
“The subject was brought up very slowly over several months —- you have to get used to the idea. Denial and anger. The doctor said, ‘You have a 50-per-cent chance of being alive in two years.’ I thought, I don’t know how long I’m going to be on the list. And the odds of survival are not very good. But quite frankly, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was sick of being scared of every breath and fighting all the time. My life had been winnowed away to a shadow.”
The surgery took place in 2008 in Toronto. Someone Pangman will never know saved her through organ donation of a set of lungs. As she puts it, “you gave me everything.”
Asked if she made promises to herself if she survived, she submits: “My deal was I was always really private about my health, but if I got through this, I would be public about my help so that I could inspire some change and raise awareness. It’s really important you speak to your family because they’re the ones that sign on the dotted line (to donate an organ).
“My ability to breathe and make music was taken from me over many, many years, slowly. That in the space of an eight-hour surgery, all of a sudden I could sing again and I could complete my MO — which was to get out there and live life and make music and have a band and enjoy — it’s crazy. It’s the big things but it’s also the small things, being able to run up the stairs, it’s just a miracle.”
Her cadence even expanded. She can sing deeper now.
Another way Pangman is giving back is with her music. Her latest album, 33, is sparkling and timeless, its songs picked from those popular in 1933. “As much as I like the music from the 1930s,” she laughs, “I’m really glad I wasn’t born then.” Indeed, she wouldn’t be here today.
Pangman worked on the album last year when she was 33, meaning she can continue this age-and-year pattern indefinitely — an album of Second World War songs when she’s 42, a psychedelic tribute when she turns 67 and in her 80s, she jokes, “Yeah, Cyndi Lauper! I’ll be glad to be that old!”
Next up, Pangman will release an collection of songs she did with American guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. “He’s just a gem. I don’t know if I want to release it as an EP or get him back in the studio. He actually just recorded a record with Paul McCartney so the stakes may have been raised.”
In the end, like her music, the singer is straightforward about it all.
“It’s not a cure, but it’s a treatment, it’s a last option, but like you say, without it I wouldn’t be here. People with chronic illness have to be positive and have to be fighters. I went to university for art and art history and I didn’t really want to do that. Something within got me to go out and do what I wanted to do, to sing. I had always wanted to do the jazz festival circuit, but my illness was pretty chronic and I just couldn’t do it. Now, I’ve not only been able to live my life again, but I can make art again.
“We were standing onstage last night in Victoria and we had a standing ovation and I was like, ‘Pinch me!’ Who knows when the meteor’s going to drop - EDMONTON JOURNAL


Discography

33 (Release date April 12th 2011)
Live in Montreal
Dead Drunk Blues
Can't Stop Me From Dreaming
They Say
Christmas Gift

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Bio

Although Alex Pangman grew up a couple of generations late to have sung with Teddy Wilson, the vibrant young vocalist is proud to be known as Canada's Sweetheart of Swing. With pipes aplenty, Pangman possesses the requisite taste, talent and the historical knowledge of an avid record collector to breathe new life into the sturdy standards of the classic jazz era.
A superb song stylist with growing compositional chops, the prodigiously gifted Toronto scene maker has built a loyal fan base amongst jazz listeners and dancers alike through her critically acclaimed work with her stacked Alley Cats in the studio, upscale nightclubs and concert halls across Canada including two stellar showcases at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Alex's dedication to her music goes far beyond what might be called a passionate pursuit – it's more like a life-long obsession which began in her teens upon first discovering Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden along with amazing singers like Mildred Bailey, Julia Lee and Maxine Sullivan. "An exciting new world with this immense songbook opened up to me."
Alex quickly began delving deeper into the sophisticated shellac of the 20s and 30s which eventually led to a fortuitous connection with guitar great Jeff Healey who knew a rare talent when he heard it. In very short order, Healey produced her impressive 1999 debut ‘They Say’ (Sensation Records) as well as the 2001 follow-up, ‘You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming.’ While facets of Ella Fitzgerald, Connie Boswell and Ruth Etting could be discerned in Alex's zesty delivery, that crisp clear voice was unequivocally her own.
After getting a Songwriter of the Year nod from the National Jazz Awards for her tune Melancholy Lullaby for the 2001 film Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story, Alex received two more nominations in the Vocalist Of The Year category and then a Ken Whiteley number she sang over the opening scene of the 2003 feature film Falling Angels won a Genie for Best Original Song.
While the gorgeously filmed videos for the aforementioned Melancholy Lullaby and One Night In Monte Carlo shot to the top of the Bravo! Countdown, Alex was busily scheduling collaborations with everyone from Grammy-nominated trumpeter Kevin Clark and the dashing Denzal Sinclaire to pianist Tyler Yarema and even Jim Galloway's All-Stars. But Alex was never keen on being anyone's "chick singer" and to underscore that point, she selected the repertoire, assembled her band and co-produced 2005's ‘Live In Montreal (Real Gone Gal)’ album which stands among her finest recorded performances.
The blessing of more frequent bookings would also prove to be a curse. Smoke-filled venues were definitely not the place for someone battling lung disease and Alex reluctantly took a break to recoup. All the while, her interest in singing and playing music never waned. In fact, it was during her self-imposed exile that she stumbled onto the city's bluegrass and string-band underground.
Alex fit right in with the scrappy Cameron House crowd who shared her excitement for the enriching sound of a bygone era when the lines between jazz, blues and country were still blurry enough to ignore.
A hook-up with the Backstabbers' front man Colonel Tom Parker gave rise to the rollicking roots country combo Lickin' Good Fried. But just as the tape was about to roll on their debut album session, Alex's physical condition worsened to the point where a double lung transplant was deemed essential. Determined to finish voicing her parts, vertical or horizontal, Alex's sweetly soulful crooning throughout the group's self-released ‘Say Uncle!’ disc is testament to her unflinching dedication. The good news is that a donor was found in time and the surgery was a complete success. Alex has roared back to full strength in a remarkably quick recovery that's borderline miraculous. A happy ending? More like a thrilling new beginning!
More recently a union with prestigious Montreal jazz label Justin Time Records further continues Alex’s return to form, with a new disc entitled ‘33’, which was released in Canada in April 2011 and will be released in the US on July 12th, 2011. In Alex’s own words, “as a longtime devotee of music from the classic genre I find something of a kinship with the music that buoyed nations through the "dirty thirties"... The initial concept of this record was to honor that kind of spirit with songs popular in 1933; indeed the bulk of the material (save for one self-penned number) was a popular song in the year 1933 - recorded while I was 33.” Along with her longtime band The Alley Cats and featuring guest vocalists Ron Sexsmith and Denzal Sinclaire – the music is presented with all the love, fun and respect it deserves.
‘33’ will be promoted and toured across Canada in summer of 2011 with support from the Canada Council.