MP3 Todd Harrold/Eric Clancy - Real
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references Boz Scaggs,Michael McDonald, Bill Evans, Bill Withers, Herbie Hancock, Pat
Metheny, and Stevie Wonder seamlessly all at once.
8 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Smooth Jazz, URBAN/R&B: Soul
One Listen to Todd Harrold's voice and you can begin to see why people respond to his singing. Todd is hugely popular in the Fort Wayne Indiana and surrounding area, as one of the most outstanding, jazz/R&B soul singers. Everything about Todd's performances imply a huge amount of hard work and self sacrifice to achieve a sound that I see him hang on to with his teeth, and won't let go of. His bet, and its a good one--is that you won't let go of it either.
Over the past couple of years I've been fortunate as a piano/keyboard player to play with Todd in a variety of situations; as he wears the hats of vocalist and also drummer and amazingly--both--at the same time. Through-out he has demonstrated amazing resilience and depth, and his vocals just continue to get stronger and stronger, his rhythm becomes more and more definable as him, and its special. In a complicated way his singing is connected to his drumming and vice versa. His drum fills, set-ups, groove and vocal precision reflect a refinement that can only be achieved with amazing talent combined with self sacrifice, intense listening, and hard work. The vocals play off the drums, and the listener can forget there is just one musician doing this. It is astounding to see live.
What is astounding about his newest album "Real" however is the lack of real drums. This album is about Todd as a singer, song writer, and as a poet. I can tell you that there were times when we put this music together that he was frustrated as we tried many un-satisfactory grooves he could play in his sleep. But over time we found things we liked and we began to realize there was something else going on here that was just as potent as the groove, as important as Todd's drumming.
When we perform these tunes live they take on a whole new life and magic of their own, and to be sure, we will have live albums to follow, that will feature his explosive drum playing--and he has past albums that display this. Even so, there is life here of another kind on this album that I think over-shadows even Todd's amazing drum talents, and all the advantages of live performance. There is something carefully crafted here that can demand your attention. The vocal performances are so strong, and the lyrics are so stark, that nothing else really matters to me when I hear this. Maybe that's the hidden truth here. Todd has another hidden talent. He can craft lyrics that somehow interweave his purpose through the melody and harmony, that will provoke in us the truth he feels in his bones. His drumming can over-shadow this, but never diminish it.
That's what I thought as I was arranging each of these tunes, I thought it again as I mixed and produced them. That's what I think even now. This is music written the way pop and soul music with grooves should be written: For adults, for people hungry for something deeper!
Because of that it plays itself by anyone who has the ear for it. Over and over I've seen people respond to it. I'm betting that you will too.
'Watersister' was the first tune we came up with for this project. Todd has written thousands of tunes, but this one suited my playing style very well. I think Todd was sensitive to that--at the time we were still becoming acquainted with one another's playing styles. We took a smooth approach, making it very keyboard driven, and put his vocals out in front. It became a model for everything else to come. The great George Ogg later added some rhythm guitar for us.
Michelle in 313 I think was the next tune we did. Immediately I was reminded of Todd's wide ranging influences, from Sade, to Sting, to Stevie Wonder, to Bill Withers. At one point during the month we recorded this, and Todd called me and told me he wanted me to play more organ on his gigs... to the point that he wanted me to also function as a bass player. So I started adding organ. We put organ on this track and I think it helped cement the sound we have achieved. Stevie Wonder meets Steve Winwood, with shades of Michael Mcdonald. George Ogg later came and laid down some guitar to help fill it out.
Solid Gone is the closest sounding tune to what an organ trio with Todd can sound like. I played organ and organ bass parts, and I was joined With guitar virtuoso Sam Smiley playing lead and a killer solo. There are shades of Steve Winwood here, but Todd takes things to another level with the lyrics and a bridge (about half way through the track) that is just so beautiful... its worth the price of the album on its own.
Real is the title track of this album and it has become our most requested original tune. We had done a live version of this tune for another project, we decided to go with this version because this--even though it was released later--was our first. The lyrics and vocal precision Todd displays here provokes powerful imagery here. As I played the piano solo I kept thinking about music that stands "for something."
ItAintMe was a groove and chord progression I had worked out a year ago. I gave it to Todd and he put lyrics to it and a very catchy melody. The piano interlude in the middle I played, played itself because of the way he sang it.
Curve of Forgotten Things is a work of art. Recorded in a piano trio type fashion, Todd's vocals carry everything and push my piano playing to a whole new level. There are shades of 'Kind of Blue' here that the music just wouldn't let me keep out of the piano parts, I couldn't stop thinking of 'Flamingo Sketches' and Bill Evans, as I played behind him.
Peace At The Center was the next tune we recorded. Here Todd displays his ability to turn a phrase with melody and some pretty complicated chord progressions. The vocal over-dubs and strings inspired a Herbie Hancock type electric piano solo.
Dream At the Same Time is the first cut on the album and the last one we recorded. Todd gave me creative freedom to build the arrangement, and Sam Smiley again graces us with a very tight and melodic solo.
I think as you listen to this you get a feel from this music that I still get. Its powerful stuff!
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