James Brandon Lewis (tenor saxophone), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Gerald Cleaver (drums), playing (then discussing) a set “inspired by the music of Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Grover Washington Jr.” (YouTube commentary), last night, New York
Donny Hathaway died in 1979 at the age of 33. He was a casualty of mental illness. Afflicted with severe chronic depression and ultimately diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he leapt to his death out of a New York City hotel room.
To see him there in the studio at about 21 years old, directing all these real big session guys like he’d been doing it for years, was a tremendous sight to see. But he always believed in himself. He always believed in his talent. He wasn’t conceited about it, but he knew he could do anything these guys could do and almost certainly better. I’d have loved to sign him as artist, but it wasn’t to be.
Bassist Christian McBride on Donny Hathaway:
You can tell that he listened to Stravinsky. He listened to Debussy. He was a musician who was the full 360-degree circle.