For Harold O’Neal, the emphasis is on the experience of the music, rather than the genre. “Through my compositions and improvisations, most important to me is the hope to expand the sonic awareness of my listeners and bring about a shared sense interconnection. At the end of each piece, I want to leave them with the impression that we have travelled together, and that they each have been an integral participant on this spontaneous journey.” Indeed, audiences who have the pleasure of hearing Harold’s unique improvisatory impressionism performed live routinely find themselves drawn into a marvelous fantasy. Born in Arusha, Tanzania to an American father and a Tanzanian mother, O’Neal moved to Kansas City, Missouri at the age of three. There, despite being immersed in the rich blues and jazz traditions of his neighborhood, the 18th and Vine District, it was not the solos of Charlie Parker, but the impressionist compositions of Franz Liszt that sparked his interest in the piano at the age of 14. He began studying jazz at the Paseo Academy of Performing Arts, where he first caught the attention of his future mentor, the legendary saxophonist, Bobby Watson. O’Neal later went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music where he became the protégé of the jazz piano great Andrew Hill. Andrew Hill (himself a former student of the 20th century composer Paul Hindemith) majorly influenced Harold’s current compositions, “from him I learned the importance of letting things develop naturally and being able to find the middle ground anywhere..
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[Marvelous Fantasy] the strange and gorgeous whole of it, sits somewhere
between Ravel’s ‘Miroirs’ and Duke Ellington’s great 1953 album Piano
Reflections.- Ben Ratliff, New York Times