Harold O'Neal's Marvelous Fantasy

Interview + Performance

Friday, December 02, 2011

A few hundred years ago, classical pianists would impress audiences by improvising cadenzas in the middle of a concerto — riffing, we would say today. Now improvisation is firmly in the realm of jazz. But a new record called Marvelous Fantasy explores the connection between jazz and classical improvisation. It’s by the 30-year-old jazz pianist Harold O’Neal.

Not many people have a resume like O’Neal’s: the Kansas City native is a kickboxer, karate teacher, and breakdancer (he performed in a Jay-Z video) as well as a student of Romantic piano music. O’Neal got turned on to music as a kid watching the Donald & Daffy Duck dueling pianos scene in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. “They’re playing ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.’ and I said ‘wow, that’s amazing, what is that? I want to learn that.’”

On his new record O’Neal looks to French impressionist composers like Maurice Ravel. “My gut was saying take these classical pieces that I like and just analyze them — harmonically, structurally, the mechanics of what they’re doing technically and break it down and turn it into a drill,” he explains to Kurt Andersen. “Basically I run the drill enough until it becomes second nature and I just throw it in the bag of improvisation.”

 

Video: “Marvelous Fantasy”

 

Video: Harold O'Neal breakdances in the studio

 

Video: "The Lovers"

    Music Playlist
  1. Atanos
    Artist: Harold O'Neal
    Album: Marvelous Fantasy
    Label: Smalls Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Marvelous Fantasy
    Artist: Harold O'Neal
    Album: Marvelous Fantasy
    Label: Smalls Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor
    Artist: Roger Woodward
    Album: BWV 903: Fantasia
    Label: Celestial Harmonies
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Marvelous Fantasy
    Artist: Harold O'Neal
    Album: Live in Studio 360
  5. The Lovers
    Artist: Harold O'Neal
    Album: Live in Studio 360
  6. Boat on the Ocean
    Artist: Maurice Ravel
    Album: Reflections
  7. Little Ones
    Artist: Harold O'Neal
    Album: Marvelous Fantasy
    Label: Smalls Records
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Harold O’Neal

Produced by:

Derek John

Comments [2]

Rhonda from Southern, NJ

MAGICAL!

Jan. 28 2014 12:26 AM
James D Meredith from Long Beach, CA

You hear the scope of his musical knowledge in his approach to whatever he plays. it refreshing not that other pianist do not but has a genuine love love all piano music. so it is about sound as oppose to style.

Dec. 26 2011 01:46 AM

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