Miles Donahue
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Miles Donahue


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The best kept secret in music


"The Boston Globe"

"Miles Donahue is one of the Boston area's best-kept jazz secrets. Equally adept on trumpet and various saxaphones, and a composer of both grace and originality, his music has received scant documentation and far too little attention." - Bob Blumenthal

"Saxophone Journal"

"Miles Donahue plays tenor sax and trumpet with an inherent beauty, coupled with authoritative improvisations, that go hand in glove with the melodic designs of his compositions...This is one of the best CDs I've heard in years." - Tim Price

"The Cleveland Free Times"

"Donahue's a remarkable mulit-instrumentalist...His compositions are challenging and he spurs each musician into their most creative roles..." - Nancy Ann Lee


"As authoritatively as Donahue swings, he never beats you over the head with his chops and chooses to project a quiet strength...Donahue's introspective, reflective qualities serve him well."
- Alex Henderson

"Jazz Review Magazine (UK)"

"His tone on both tenor and alto is at times achingly beautiful...within a few short fleeting lines he is away, the tone now a warm and comfy rug in which to wrap around the shoulders and heat up the old cockles."
- Rick Finlay


"Miles Donahue takes on the American Songbook and comes away a winner...he has given the jazz listening audience a most welcome treat."
- Lee Prosser

"Billings Gazette"

"Donahue on sax has a bold, muscular sound that can swing hard without getting in your face...the most pleasant surprise is the inclusion of unkown vocalist Robin McElhatten...her pleasantly under sung "Porgy and Bess" is a marvel." - Chris Jorgensen

"All About Jazz"

"Great classics, given a new polish by Miles Donahue and crew...the four discs stand on their own--collectively or seperately...Miles Donahue is a rare instrumentalist who doubles on reeds and trumpet, and an even rarer one who does it successfully, Now, Robin McElhatten: Expressive phrasing and an ability to wrap her voice around the nuances of a beautiful melody and make it her own. She's been compared to Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, and no argument here. Throw in a bit of Barbara Streisand and a helping of originality." - Dan McClenaghan


"The mix is superb, the solos exquisite, the 'covers' everlasting. It's all here...all the performers have treated there wonderful standards with great liberty, almost reinventing the tunes to better heights." - George W. Carroll


"He is that rarity, a skilled reed and brass player, and here he demonstrates his skill on alto and tenor saxophones and trumpet." - Bruce Crowther


Double Dribble-Debut LP-1992
The Good Listener
Simple Pleasures
In the Pocket
Vol.1 Stranger in Paradise-2003
Vol.2 Polkadots and Moonbeams-2003
Vol.3 Someone to Watch Over Me-2003
Vol.4 Embraceable You-2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Miles Donahue is one of my favorite cats because he plays so unique and fresh. To this day I've never heard anyone play trumpet and tenor so balanced."
-- Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, in an interview in Saxophone Journal

Saxophonist/trumpeter Miles Donahue blew into the jazz game at a relatively late stage in life. The fifty-eight year old multi-instrumentalist has been a professional musician since he was in his twenties; but he married and started his family young, and found it necessary -- to pay the rent and put bread and butter on the table -- to seek steadier paychecks than jazz could provide. So he worked functions--weddings, lounges and the like. His dream of making it playing 'real jazz’ got bumped to the back burner, where it went into a slow but ever-hopeful simmer, until Donahue was thirty-five years old. "That's when Jerry Bergonzi (Miles’ fellow saxophonist, and boyhood friend from Watertown, Massachusetts) came back from New York," Miles says. "I saw what he was doing, how he was going after his dream, and I knew right then I had to chase mine too."

With the decision made, it was another ten years before Donahue played his first paying 'real jazz' gig. It wasn't ten wasted years, though. "I was playing trumpet in these soul bands, blowing my lip out." Miles explains. "We didn't mike the horns back then, and I paid for it." In fact, part of Miles' remarkable multi-instrumentalism can be attributed to simple physical problems. His first instrument was trumpet, and he switched to sax early on when he had some minor dental problems, then came back to trumpet and 'doubling'. Of the lip dilemma, Miles says: "When my lip went out, I still had to make a living. I'm a pretty good keyboardist, so I bought a Fender Rhodes and played that in different bands for almost ten years." His switch to keyboard proved a serendipitous bit of job security. "I figured out pretty quickly that the horn players can come and go, but the last person fired in the band was the keyboard player,” Miles smiles. "So I stuck with it, and in the long run it really helped me out, with the development of harmonic concepts, and with my arranging and songwriting. To this day I write almost all my songs on piano."

In 1992 Donahue recorded his first CD as a leader, "Double Dribble" on Timeless Records. The disc won him a rave review in Saxophone Journal. "The Good Listener" and “Simple Pleasures” followed in the nineties, the latter featuring George Garzone, Mick Goodrick, Billy Hart, Bruce Gertz and Kenny Werner.

Of "The Good Listener", jazz critic Tim Price said in Saxophone Journal: "Miles Donahue is a superstar in waiting. This is intense, romantic, and designed for maximum impact. A world class tantalizing multi-instrumentalist steeped in sonic purity."

Later in the decade, with a desire to have more artistic control over his music, Donahue formed his own record label, Amerigo Records, and released the well-received "In the Pocket." "...Donahue takes a thoughtful approach, recalling '60's post-bop at its most melodic. As authoritatively as Donahue swings, he never beats you over the head with his chops," says Alex Henderson in Jazziz.

Donahue's most recent project for Amerigo Records is, to say the least, ambitious: A four CD set of songs from the Great American Songbook (Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern...) released simultaneously, but individually sold. Volume I: "Stranger in Paradise"; Vol. II: "Polkadots and Moonbeams"; Vol. III: "Someone to Watch Over Me"; Vol. IV: "Embraceable You". Each disc contains eight classic songs, and on display are not only Miles' virtuosity on tenor and alto saxes and trumpet, but also his superb arranging skills that bathe these time-polished gems in a fresh yet reverent light.

Saxophoist, trumpeter, arranger, bandleader; and we'll have to add talent scout to Miles' resume. After he started recording, Donahue asked a young singer, Robin McElhatten -- who had blown him away when he heard her performance at the Boston area's famed jazz club, the Regattabar -- to record a song for inclusion in one of his discs. He was so captivated by her performance and personality that he ended up featuring her vocals on eleven more songs, three for each volume of his "Standards", a collaboration that resulted in a dozen vibrant versions of the classic songs, including the masterfully-rendered "I Loves You Porgy" and "Polkadots and Moonbeams".

"You know, Coltrane, as 'out' as he got on Impulse! Records," Donahue muses, "he also did "Ballads" and that (vocalist) Johnny Hartman album. Standard songs, and those are great albums."

As for his "Standards", they might be considered a career-crowning achievement, if Donahue wasn't so brimming with ideas for new projects. A CD of Celtic sounds has already been recorded, with strings, and a tentative set of concerts with Robin McElhatten -- in support of the "Standards" project -- is brewing, to name just t