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Performances Song History Jamming Chart

Donna Lee

Music: Miles Davis

Vocals: Instrumental

Original Artist: Charlie Parker

Albums: Live Phish 09, Live Phish 19

Debut: 1988-10-29

Historian: Phillip Zerbo

Last Update: 2016-03-06

"Donna Lee" is a beloved bebop standard, long thought to be composed by Charlie Parker, but in fact is the work of Miles Davis. Phish debuted “Donna Lee” on 10/29/88 at the Goddard College’s Sculpture Room, assisted by Russ Remington on alto saxophone. Phish’s take on the standard is traditional, sincere, and probably better than you think for a straight-ahead jazz classic. Other horn-assisted versions include 10/20/89 with Russell Remington and Dave Grippo; 2/16/90 with Grippo; and on 7/12/91 with The Giant Country Horns, officially released as LivePhish 19. Those renditions without horns tended to be of the shorter variety, featuring Trey and Page weaving the intricate lines, and sometimes including a rare, traditional bass solo from Mike.

Charlie Parker, “Donna Lee”

As with most tunes traditional jazz tunes, “Donna Lee” faded from the Phish repertoire after 1991, as they started playing larger rooms, with an exploding roster of originals. Thought long-forgotten and 267 shows removed from its last performance, on 7/25/93 Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ, Phish weaved portions of “Donna Lee” into the “David Bowie” intro. While “Donna Lee” faded from the Phish song list, Bad Hat – featuring Trey, Fish, Stacy Starkweather and Jamie Masefield – offered two versions on 9/10/94 and 9/11/94.

Phish, “Donna Lee” – 6/23/89, Boston, MA

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