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About Miles Donahue

New Englander Miles Donahue is a veteran horn player who knows his way around the trumpet as well as the tenor and soprano saxophone. The hard bop/post-bop musician has also played the piano, although he seems to prefer wind instruments. On both trumpet and sax, Donahue projects a quiet strength; he swings, but often in an introspective, reflective, lyrical fashion. For a long time, the Boston resident put his jazz career on hold due to family obligations, but since the late 80s, he has been making up for lost time by playing jazz almost constantly.

Donahue was born on August 19, 1944 in Watertown, MA, where he began studying the trumpet at the age of ten. One of the people who encouraged Donahue's interest in the trumpet was his father, Babe Donahue, a local trumpeter/arranger with a strong Roy Eldridge influence. After reaching adulthood in the 60s and enrolling in Lowell State College in Lowell, MA, Donahue heard Boston tenor man Charlie Mariano -- one of his favorite musicians -- and decided to study the saxophone, as well. He also studied the piano at Lowell State College, and it was during his college years that he spent some time playing trumpet in a soul band. After dropping out of college, Donahue got married and had two kids at a young age, and although he supported his family with music, he didn't do it by playing jazz exclusively. Feeling that rhythm sections were more likely to stay busy than horn players, Donahue spent about five years playing the piano exclusively and paid the bills with musical activities that weren't jazz-related. The New Englander didn't give up jazz altogether during that period; he wrote all of the material for a jazz album by flutist Paige Brook (who was with the New York Philharmonic at the time). But he did place jazz on the back burner. It was in the mid-80s that Donahue realized how much he wanted to make jazz his main focus, and one of the people who encouraged him to go in that direction was tenor saxman Jerry Bergonzi (an old friend from Watertown). After resuming his trumpet and sax playing, Donahue was hired for various jazz gigs in and around Boston, and by about 1988, he was aggressively pursuing a jazz career.

In the early 90s, Donahue became one of the many American jazz musicians who has started his recording career on independent European labels. The improviser's first album as leader, Double Dribble, focused on a 1992 concert and was released by Timeless Records (a Dutch label). In 1993, Donahue recorded The Good Listener for RAM Records, an Italian company; Good Listener, which featured Bergonzi extensively, was Donahue's first studio album and second album overall. RAM released his next album, Simple Pleasures in 1999, and in 2003, four albums of Donahue playing standards were released simultaneously on his own Amerigo label. ~ Alex Henderson

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