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Multi-instrumentalist Miles Donahue didn't get serious about jazz until he was forty-five years old. Prior to his belated commitment, he spent nearly twenty years working weddings, functions and loungesbread and butter jobs to pay the rent and support a family. But when he did make the decision to go for it, he went in body and heart and soul, recording a couple of first rate CDs on Ram Records before he decided to establish his own record company, Amerigo Records. In The Pocket is Donahue's first release on the label, and if his jazz dreams simmered for some years, they burst into a rolling boil here.
Donahueone of the few jazz players who double on reeds and trumpetplays mostly alto sax on this set; and while the disc's title suggests a contained and 'in the pocket' affair, that suggestion is only half right. The tunesten of the eleven are Donahue-pennedmight go with a groove, but Donahue is a soloist of extraordinary creativity inventiveness; and when tenor sax man Jerry Bergonzi joins him, the results are doubly-stunning.
Donahue's alto approach is intense, his solos full of surprisesloops and swirls and eddies and churning currents. He plays with Art Pepper's urgency, George Coleman's inventiveness within the geometry of the composition, and Jackie McLean's strung-tight edginess.
In The Pocket is mainstream jazz, at its highest level, thanks in good measure to Donahue's arranging skills. Each and every tune has a sparkle and polish, similar in attitude to the George Coleman/Ned Otter collaborations Danger High Voltage and So Little Time.
A consistently sharp-edged set of straight ahead sounds. Highlights: just about any solo by Donahue or Jerry Bergonzi, anywhere on the disc; "4D's and a G" for the Jerry Bergonzi/ Donahue tenor/alto interplay; "Kelneka" for pianist Fred Hersch's eloquent solo.
Track Listing: In The Pocket, Kelneka, McEjim, 4 D's and a G, Emma's Song, Lights Out, All the Way, A Sometime
thing, Waitin' for the Ice Cream Man, In the Pocket, Emma's Song-reprise
Personnel: Miles Donahue, alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet, and keyboards; Jamey Haddad, drums; Fred Hersch,
piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Jerry Bergonzi, tenor sax; Ricardo Monzon, percussion; Kurt
Rosenwinkle, guitar; Dan Greenspan, bass; John Paul, guitar
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.