Saturday, October 17, 2009

Donny Hathaway Live

There are live recordings that are so intimate you feel like you're right there in the room with the band/the singer. One of The Nightfly's favorite examples of this type of listening experience is Donny Hathaway's "These Songs for You - Live!"

Several tracks collected for this album were recorded in August of 1971 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, others at The Bitter End in New York City in October of the same year.

It was at The Bitter End that Donny covered a song by Al Kooper (of Blood Sweat and Tears, etc.): "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know". Stand outs among the tight band: drummer Fred White who was just sweet sixteen - not a bad way to start out in the music business - and guitarist Cornell Dupre. (Note: other tracks on the album have Phil Upchurch doing the guitar work).

And then there's Donny himself. He occasionally has trouble reaching the lower notes, but over all the vocal performance is spine-tingly-kind-of-stunning - one of the finest ever recorded; tender and forceful at the same time. He was also an outstanding keyboard player, arranger and band leader - we get to hear all of that on the album. He has his fans in the room alternately rapt and goin'-to-church - the connection between artist and audience is truly beautiful. Normally The Nightfly would be going crazy listening to audience members "interupting" the singer with whoops and hollers, but in this case it adds much intimacy to the show.

For short sound samples from the album, go here:

Complete songs (but sadly not the Al Kooper cover) can be found at:

To read more about Donny, go to: