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NPR Music

5 Donny Hathaway Covers By Jazz Musicians

Donny Hathaway remains widely admired in jazz, but much of his repertoire has yet to be tapped by improvisers.
Donny Hathaway remains widely admired in jazz, but much of his repertoire has yet to be tapped by improvisers.

Donny Hathaway's repertoire occupies a peculiar space in jazz. Though not a jazz artist, he has influenced a variety of jazz musicians through his work as a singer, keyboardist and composer. Still, jazz musicians have only skimmed the surface of his small but remarkable catalog.

During his run in the 1970s, Hathaway would see only five LPs released under his name. Bouts of mental illness sidelined his productivity, which came to an unexpected end in January 1979, when he leaped to his death out a window of a New York City hotel.

Rhino Records' new four-disc anthology, Never My Love, captures and confirms Hathaway's enduring legacy, particularly in the realms of R&B and jazz. It contains all the famous classics, as well as previously unreleased material (both studio and live) and one disc dedicated entirely to his timeless duets with Roberta Flack. These selections reflect some of the Hathaway treasures most frequently covered by jazz artists.

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