A dedication written for Donny Hathaway Live + In Performance has been provided by Hathaway’s daughter, R&B and Jazz singer Lalah Hathaway. Liner notes have been provided by author David Ritz, who first heard Hathaway’s music when Jerry Wexler held a small listening party at the Beverly Hilton in 1970. Wexler introduced Hathaway’s music by comparing him to two other singers with whom he had worked, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
Hathaway became well-known for his duets with Roberta Flack on hits such as “Where Is The Love,” but as magnificent as Hathaway sounded in the studio, his live performances were absolutely electric. As Ritz writes in the liner notes, “the happy moments on these live dates are many: Willie Weeks’ remarkable bass work on “Voices Inside”; Dupree’s nuanced, perfectly punctuated guitar riffs; Donny’s long-form, drama-building keyboard work, especially on “The Ghetto,” his master tone poem; the funkification of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” (with the crowd providing the requisite church choir); the jet-stream gentle groove of “Nu-Po” that anticipates the coming gentle storm of smooth jazz without submitting to schmaltz. Soul can get sappy, but Donny never does. His musical intelligence always avoids the obvious.”
Recorded live at The Troubadour in Los Angeles and The Bitter End in New York, with palpable excitement from the audience, Donny Hathaway Live also features a performance of his song “We’re Still Friends,” and an inspired cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On.” The album was originally released by Atlantic in 1972. As All Music Guide describes it, “Hardly the obligatory live workout of most early-'70s concert LPs, Live solidified Hathaway's importance at the forefront of soul music.”
Donny Hathaway In Performance was recorded live at The Troubadour, The Bitter End and Carnegie Hall, and includes covers of Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted And Black,” Leon Russell’s “A Song For You,” as well as Hathaway’s own songs “Nu-Po,” and “We Need You Right Now.” In Performance was released posthumously in 1980 on Atlantic, following Hathaway’s tragic death in 1979 at the age of 33.
Wexler would later write in his autobiography, Rhythm And The Blues, “Hathaway’s voice is plush-velvet, broad-stroked, and big-bottomed; it’s a misty-blue pop-jazz church voice of tremendous power and conviction.” More than 3 decades after Hathaway’s death, he is remembered for his incredible gift, and his legacy lives on.
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