Miles Donahue, Standards,
Vol. I: Stranger in Paradise

Vol. II: Polkadots & Moonbeams
Vol. III: Someone to Watch Over Me
Vol. IV: Embraceable You
(Amerigo, 2003)

Each CD in Miles Donahue's Standards set is available separately in this four-disc series. The albums mix instrumentals with songs sung by sometimes Boston Pops soloist Robin McElhatten.

Boston's Donahue leads the way through this American jazz songbook on trumpet and saxophones. There are 32 songs in all, among them "I Loves You Porgy," "Embraceable You," "The Days of Wine & Roses" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." All these songs recur frequently in the great American tradition of jazz and vocal interpretation.

At a time when much of jazz features vigorous hand-waving for attention to challenging and experimental sounds, Donahue invites us to relax and enjoy a suite of songs and melodies that have stood the test of time as his ensemble expertly plays them with understated charm and gentle handling.

Key in this ensemble setting is the choice of pianist. Donahue chose carefully using one half-dozen different players across the four CDs: Bruce Barth (Terence Blanchard, Carla Cook), ballad interpreter Fred Hersch (Stan Getz, Joe Henderson), Kenny Werner (Archie Shepp, Betty Buckley), Alain Mallet (The Story), Ben Cook and Kevin Hays (Eddie Henderson, Joshua Redman).

by Tom Schulte

Buy Vol. I: Stranger in Paradise from

Buy Vol. II: Polkadots & Moonbeams from

Buy Vol. III: Someone to Watch Over Me from

Buy Vol. IV: Embraceable You from