It's been more than 30 years since the untimely passing of soul sensation Donny Hathaway. But Hathaway's legacy lives on with a new tribute album by tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum.
Donny Hathaway, who gained fame in the 1970s as a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer, left behind some of soul music's most-compelling tunes, including his 1973 hit, "Love, Love, Love." The "smooth" jazz rendition from Kirk Whalum's album, Everything Is Everything: The Music Of Donny Hathaway, features guest trumpeter Rick Braun.
Whalum became a Donny Hathaway fan, and a fan of all types of music, in his native Memphis, Tennessee. He says, "The music I like to play and write encompasses the four elements I grew up with: Memphis R&B, gospel, rock and jazz."
Kirk made his mark on the jazz scene in Houston, Texas. Since 1985, he's balanced a soaring solo career with his work as a leading session player, performing alongside Whitney Houston on The Bodyguard soundtrack, and sharing the stage with Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Babyface and many more.
It was Hathaway's signature blend of R&B, pop and funk, his innovative arranging style, and charismatic stage presence that inspired Whalum to record a tribute. "I think there are certainly some common denominators with me and Donny Hathaway," he says.
Among the special guests on the album is Donny Hathaway's daughter, seasoned R&B singer Lalah Hathaway, who performs on the track "You Had To Know." Lalah was only 10 years-old when her father died of an apparent suicide in 1979.
Whalum is also joined by renowned jazz bassist Christian McBride, guitarist Jeff Golub, vocalist Musiq Soulchild, and an 18-piece horn and string orchestra.