Rebecca Harrold
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Rebecca Harrold

Salem, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Salem, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Classical Adult Contemporary

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Jul
05
Rebecca Harrold @ Club Bohemia (Cantab Lounge)

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Jul
05
Rebecca Harrold @ Club Bohemia (Cantab Lounge)

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Feb
23
Rebecca Harrold @ Lilypad

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Music

Press


The River of Life is the debut album from pianist and composer Rebecca Harrold. The album is filled with thirteen spiritually charged tracks that embody the sound of “new age” and classical jazz. It is a relaxing and feel good instrumental album that showcases Harrold’s talent.

Harrold is from Cleveland, Ohio, and she spent many years working as a pianist and singer at Playhouse Square. She is a double threat with being talented as a pianist and be a vocal soloist for Faith in Action, a women’s jazz/gospel a cappella group.

The first song on the album is “Photograph” which is an upbeat and soft song that Violinist Charlie Bisharat shines throughout the song. The combination of the violin, piano and guitar is flawless and creates a sweet melody. It is a song that will have you day dreaming with its angelic rhythm. This track is a little piece and teaser of what to expect for the rest of the album.

The next song “We Belong Together” demonstrates Harrold’s talent as her piano riffs open the song. It is a mellow tune that shows off the melding of various instruments. In the song “The River of Life” is a dramatic and cinematic experience. It can be easily added to a movie soundtrack or TV series episode when some revelation is about to be released. The mixture of the piano and violin is flawless yet again and makes you appreciate the sound of jazz.

Through the album there is a consistency of sound graceful and sentimental music. Overall The River of Life was easy to listen to and will put you in a peaceful state of mind. - The Celebrity Cafe-


Rebecca Harrold:(pno); Will Ackerman(gtr); Tony Levin (bs); Richard Gates:(bs); Jeff Haynes:(perc); Tom Eaton: (perc); Jill Haley: (English horn); Premik Tubbs (lyricon, sop); Charlie Bisharat: (violin); Eugene Friesen: (cello); Penni Lane: (vocals).
A very listenable disc of original compositions by leader Harrold. Is it jazz? If so, which pigeon-hole does it occupy? In truth, delightful as it is, I don’t think it will be rubbing shoulders on my shelves between Herbie Hancock and Gene Harris. More likely I’ll file it under bland.. It is just too repetitive. Perhaps it is smooth or easy listening or even – almost - contemporary classical chamber music. But jazz?
Nah!
Still worth a listen if your definition of jazz is looser than mine and certainly worthy of the better class of lift – except on those tracks where the strings and the horns are sent out for the coffees then it becomes more meaningful and less predictable.
A curate’s egg.
Rebecca Harrold: The River of Life is available on the Imaginary Road Studios label. - Bebop Spoken Here


After serving as piano player for the Boston Ballet for several years, Rebecca Harrold has recorded and released The River Of Life CD. Harrold fills each track with a variety of instrumental mood music. From stirring, striking themes to forlorn expressions of life’s not so happy moments. Through it all, Harrold maintains high musical integrity, sheer talent, and detailed expression. In each track, Harrold conveys the exact emotion she sets out to. Producer Will Ackerman captures every note with sonic precision and brings each to life with startling clarity.

Opening track “Photograph” finds Harrold tapping out a soft, gentle yet generous run of peppy, upbeat notes. The melodic line is both accessible and engaging. The music suggests a person is looking at an old picture and is contemplating what the picture means to her and may have meant in the past. Harrold works wonders at conjuring up that spirit of contemplation. Violinist Charlie Bisharat graciously supplies his own melodic line, a sweet high point in the song which indicates the picture has brought a smile to the viewer. Vocalist Penni Layne brings lovely cooing to lace this piece with more candy for the ear.

“We Belong Together” presses its way pleasantly into the listener’s consciousness, with Harrold’s more assertive application of the piano’s middle range notes. She has come up with a special interval of notes that dovetail finely with Jill Haley’s English horn. A touch of low end from Boston’s bassist to the stars Tony Levin keeps this composition lifted up by something special.

“G.O.D.” creates a generous majestic sweep with Harrold’s piano notes traipsing a wide sonic landscape. English horn notes glide in with their unobtrusive beauty and together with that piano suggest some larger than life presence is behind it all.

Title track “The River Of Life” says it all. The river, according to Harrold’s liner notes, represent the various paths one might take in life. Here, she injects a brief feeling of hesitation here or there, as to suggest a person stopping at each crossroad to make a choice. There is true emotion in each note Harrold hits and she creates the kind of sublime moments of truth that only a musician who has an ear for life and an ear for music at once can do. One can easily imagine this piece playing at a high point of drama in a soundtrack or production score.

It is easy to feel the stirring emotional backdrop to “Without You.” Supple piano notes suggest a void left by serious loss. Eugene Friesen’s cello colors in the piece perfectly. It’s as if the instruments all are waltzing together to a sad pulse.

“Another Time Another Place” creates a sense of what may have been if something had happened under other circumstances. This contemplation of what if haunts the mind with its light touches of piano, English horn, cello, and bass joining their subtle parts into a beauteous whole. And that cello is beautifully mournful and expressive.

“Morning Dove” is as lovely as it’s title suggests. Harrold slowly percolates some mid range notes, creating a feeling of flight, lofty, up high. Yet, underneath all that there is a persistent hint of melancholy. The dove must represent a kind of mourning, a soul departing. Harrold does a fine job rendering the beauty of going somewhere better while feeling the loss down here on the earthly plain.

Harrold injects swift assertive notes on “Gotta Never Give Up.” Her notes persistently weave a theme of perseverance. Percussionist and engineer Tom Eaton supplies a brisk rhythmic pattern underneath that spiral of sweetly ascending piano notes.

“Sentimental Roll” moves with an adventurous pace and spirit. Piano notes march in a spiral motion that connotes action and drama. English horn uplifts the listener with its sweet, lofty melodic line. Violin moves gracefully as a ballet dancer. Sentiment here is a wonderful thing.

“Say You Won’t” plays out like an amicable plea. The higher notes and the lower notes Harrold plays at once are like a conversation between two agreeable personalities. Her melodic line opens the space for soprano saxophonist Premik Tubbs to contribute a fulsome sweet flow just above it. There’s magic coming that horn, a personality in between the piano and Jeff Haynes particularly pushy rhythmic pattern. The piece makes you feel you’re being invited to join in with a lively group of companions.

“Majesty” is the classiest track on this album of classy tracks. Harrold builds a sensitive melodic line and gracefully moves alongside an elegant violin line. The rhythms Harrold creates underneath the melody and counterpoint entice the listener with their clever pokes into the higher lines. Although warmth is never jettisoned, a regal personality is created by all of this sophisticated juxtaposition and one feels as if they’ve entered the castle for a personal interview.

The notes in “Willow Tree” are as pliant as the tiny parts of one. Harrold creates the perfect mood to indicate sentimental tenderness. It’s as if she’s building her arc around something tender to give it room to breathe and grow. Richard Gates’ Mouradian bass provides the most subtle support, almost imperceptible beneath the lower piano notes but essential to the fulsome quality of this piece.

Harrold wraps up her splendid gift of music with “On My Own.” The steady, down tempo notes certainly indicate backbone and independence. There is also a quality of grace under pressure indicated by how these bold notes flow seamlessly from one to the other. This is a graceful close to an album of graceful music, with it thick piano notes indicating that Harrold feels strong and emboldened by this project and that she will return for more. We’ll all be waiting. - Bill Copeland Music News


Rebecca Harrold is one talented lady. Playing piano and singing since she was a child, her career has blossomed in to a full and rewarding life. As lead pianist for the Boston Ballet in Marblehead, MA. and with the release of her beautifully played album, The River of Life (produced by Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman), Harrold has entered a rich and creative chapter in her life. Now it’s time for everyone to catch a glimpse of her rising star…

METRONOME: Did you come from a musical family and are you classically trained?

Rebecca Harrold: Yeah, both. My mom was musical and she got me started on piano right away.

METRONOME: Did you take music lessons?

I did. I didn’t start lessons until I was five or six, but I was playing before then by ear.

METRONOME: Was your mother a piano player?

Yes. She played for ballet and I would hang out at the bar thinking I was going to be a ballerina. She was, “Oh no, no, no, no, no. You’re taking music lessons (laughs).

METRONOME: Looking back now, are you glad that she made you do that?

Looking back, yeah, but I went through a long, rebellious state- I should have been a dancer. I should have been a classical dancer. I was very upset at that whole thing. I did go back to taking ballet when I was in the sixth or seventh grade. I took jazz and modern classes; everything I could. It was the year I was deciding, I’m not going to play piano anymore (laughs). I just wanted to do other things.

METRONOME: As a kid, don’t you think you need to take a break from that kind of thing sometimes?

Yeah, I think it’s good and I think it helped because ultimately I didn’t major in piano performance. I majored in voice. I started writing music when I was ten and I wanted to do more singing because I was always singing in church and things like that. So I thought, I’ll major in voice so I can try to get this instrument caught up to my piano playing. In some weird way I thought that would help. It was a hard decision because I really loved piano and I was competing successfully regionally and statewide. I had become one of the top contenders in that arena.

By the time I hit high school, I was working in a show band and we were traveling to Hawaii and Europe. Those two paths started to cross one another yet I wanted to go and tour and sing and dance and do all these other things, so I made the choice to not continue competing. I wanted to do everything else but be in that practice room and be solitary yet still enjoy my music and do musical things, but not with that kind of focus that it requires to be classically trained and competing.



METRONOME: Were you playing popular songs of the day with the band you went on the road with?

Yeah. It was like the groups in “Pitch Perfect” and “Glee” on television. That’s what we were doing. We were a show group. We were doing show tunes, Broadway tunes and wrote medleys for commercials and then put on shows all over the place. We were probably doing 250 shows per year, and this was in high school. We were doing it all in four part harmony. It was fun.


METRONOME: How many kids were in the troupe with you?

Twenty-five to thirty.

METRONOME: Were kids playing instruments too or was it all vocals?

We had a band too. It was fun. If you watch that show “Glee,” there’s a lot of what we did there on that show. It’s funny to see because they make it seems like, “Oh, you can achieve this in one day.” Oh my goodness, not at all. The rehearsing and the work that goes in to it is really a lot.

METRONOME: Where did you go to high school?

In Ohio.

METRONOME: When you got out of high school did you go to college chasing the piano thing or chasing the vocal thing?

Yeah, I did voice. I majored in Vocal Performance.

METRONOME: Where did you go to college?

Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.

METRONOME: Was it a two year or four year course?

A four year course. It was a good old fashioned conservatory. Our electronic music department consisted of a mini Moog (laughs). It’s a little more developed now.

METRONOME: So you jumped right back in to the whole academic side of music?

Yeah, in the conservatory where we all trained on Steinway pianos and learned how to write music and do composition. They had a really good theater too for doing music theater and dancing. I was always dancing and doing mime and tap. Whatever I could get in to.
I tell my parents now that I’m a Vaudevillian trained pianist and they don’t really quite understand what that means, but in Vaudeville you had to be able to dance, sing, act and whatever. That’s always been the foundation of my training- diversification. Be diverse in whatever you do.


METRONOME: What did you do after college?

I started to move to New York city. I was in a GB band right out of college. We were working all the time. I played keyboards and sang. That was my primary position in the band. We worked all over Cleveland. I also did some solo things in restaurants, just doing my thing. Then my friend, that I lived with in college, who was from Greenwich, Connecticut and I decided that we were going to move to New York city.

METRONOME: What was her name?

Toni Imus, Don Imus’ daughter. The original shock jock. I actually never met him, but she always talked a lot about him. Growing up in that family was quite an adventure. When we were trying to move to New York city, she had a silver spoon in her mouth and I didn’t. I would say, We have to find a place to live and we have to find a place to live fast. I didn’t have unlimited funding (laughs). I needed to get a job.
Well, that didn’t last too long because she was a party girl. I love her to death. We were both party girls, but she had a lot of money and she was doing a lot of stuff that I just couldn’t be a part of. Studio 54 was a big part of her social life.

METRONOME: Did you end up finding a place in New York?

No, I ended up moving on to Boston because my daughter’s father was at Berklee College of Music. He was a real jazzer. We met in college and he transferred to Berklee. We were just in our twenties at that time.
So I ended up here in Massachusetts which is where I still am now, in Salem.

METRONOME: Have you been here ever since?

I moved to upstate New York and then to Denver, Colorado. Those were the only other two times that I moved.

METRONOME: You’ve settled right in to the music community in Boston. Are there any bands that you perform with here that we should know about?

My group is really just myself. When I need a band, I pull together musicians that I can count on and that I have worked with over the years. My bass player is Louis Ochoa. I call on him all the time if I have a gig that requires more than myself. My percussionist is Joe Galeota. He’s the lead percussionist at Berklee. He teaches West African drumming. I pool on the people I can count on and they know my music. It makes it much easier to get these folks in right away.
I always compensate my musicians. If I’m making money, they’re making money. I strongly believe that musicians need to be paid. I will do everything I can. I’ve even written grants just to get some money to pay my musicians. I always put that at the top of my budget because I really appreciate them.

METRONOME: Did you release any albums before The River of Life?

No, this is my first. I was included on a compilation disc that Will Ackerman put together called The Gathering after The River of Life came out though.

METRONOME: How many tracks of yours are on The Gathering?

Just one along with twenty-one other artists. Each one has a song on there. You get to hear a real variety of music.

METRONOME: How did the genesis of The River of Life album happen?

I had been carrying around the music with me for the album since I was ten. At least conceptually the songs were all there. Springing ahead thirty years, I started working in Marblehead, Massachusetts. I was appointed the lead pianist for The Boston Ballet at their newest studio. Part of my job requirement was to recruit pianists, train them, and manage the piano department for the studio. So I started looking around locally and there was a woman’s name that kept coming up and she danced in our adult ballet classes. Her name is Ann Sweeten. Everyone said, “She plays. You should talk to her.”
One day after class I started talking to her and asked if she would be interested in being a part of the ballet classroom experience. Now I say this laughing because I was a little put off by her response. She said, “No my dear, I am a recording artist.” I thought, Does that prevent you from learning ballet music? What am I, chopped liver? (laughs).
I totally got what she was saying though. She just focuses on that only. She has quite a career and does well with it. So I took my humble pie and said, I’m not going to be put off by this woman. I asked, What do you record? She said, “I work with Will Ackerman. You do know who that is?” I said, Actually, no I don’t.
People had talked about George Winston the pianist who recorded for Windham Hill. That’s who I knew, but I had never heard the name Will Ackerman. Ann said, “Go online and listen to some of my music.” She has quite a few CDs. I asked, Would you be able to get me in contact with Will because I have a bunch of music I’d love to record?
Years ago, people had told me, “Windham Hill would be a great place for you.” I thought it was serendipitous that I was meeting this woman. She said, “Absolutely. Just go to my web site and his name will be on there. Click on it and mention my name.” I did and sent him some very rough tracks of what I had done. He said he loved it and invited me up for a meeting.
We sat at the piano and I played all the songs and he chose the ones that he thought he would be able to put his magic to or whatever. Out of that, thirteen songs were chosen for the album.
The interesting thing for me was that all these songs had lyrics. I’ve been going through a shift with my voice. It’s been an ongoing thing with me learning my voice and how to actually use it for my songwriting. I was trained as an operatic singer. It’s been a very long journey for me. He said, “If you want to work with me, I really don’t do a whole lot of vocal productions.” I definitely wanted to work with him. I thought it would be a great experience. I wanted the music out of me because I had been carrying it around for so long. Basically it had to happen. It was time for me to get all that music out. It was like getting a PH. D. in music production.

METRONOME: Did you go to Will’s studio in Vermont?

Yes, in Windham County. It’s right near Brattleboro. He has a new studio now called Imaginary Road. He sold Windham Hill to Sony. METRONOME: How long did it take to record The River of Life?
It took about nine months to record. I had just signed a contract with The Boston Ballet. I was scouting around for pianists, caught wind of this woman and she introduced me to Will and ba-boom, we were going. He typically wanted to work with people every day of the week except for weekends and bang it out in a short amount of time, but I had just signed a contract with the company and I couldn’t do that. So it was when I had vacation time and when I could get time off here and there. It took a while, but I’m fine with it having it take that long. It’s beautiful up there and we got to spend a lot of time visiting the mountains. It’s a very magical place to go.

METRONOME: You have some wonderful players that accompanied you on the album. Did Will bring them in or did you know some of them?

The only person I brought in was the vocalist, Penni Layne, at the very in. She’s a local girl. That was it. He has his entourage of musicians that are unbelievable- Eugene Friesen on cello, Tony Levin on bass, and percussionist Jeff Haynes who just won a Grammy last year for The Spoken Word with Pete Seeger.

METRONOME: Did Will bring in Tom Eaton as well?

Yes. Tom is his engineer. For my next CD, I’m hoping to do more vocals and I want to work with Tom at his studio. My goal is to do more vocals. Tom is open to doing vocals and I’m hoping he’ll have the time.

METRONOME: Do you already have songs written for the album?

Yes, I do. All the songs on The River of Life, with the exception of possibly two all have lyrics as well.

METRONOME: Did you have a CD release party for The River of Life?

Yes, I had one before I left to go to New York. It was at The Boston Ballet in Marblehead.

METRONOME: Who was in the band that evening?

I had Premik Tubbs on saxophone and lyricon. He’s from Jamaica, New York. He’s played with everyone from Sting to Whitney Houston. Eugene Friesen was there. Louis Ochoa played bass, Ryan Edwards played percussion and Will played guitar.

METRONOME: Are you planning to record another CD?

t’s possible for next year. I’m compiling all my music now. What I try to do is get it on GarageBand and I’ve done some orchestrations with it just to get a rough idea. Right now I have about six songs so I was thinking of doing an E.P. rather than a full length CD this time around.

I’ve been encouraged to do more licensing for television and film, but I haven’t grasped the whole concept yet. Those places love the one song drops, but it gets costly because you have to license each song individually instead of as a catalog or a concept.

METRONOME: Where can people go to find out more about you and buy your music on the internet?

The best place to go is my web site at www.rebeccaharroldmusic.com. That has all my filtration situations like Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, iTunes and Amazon... I’m on all the platforms. Just make sure to spell my name right, Rebecca Harrold, with two Rs in my last name. - Metronome Magazine


Photos

Bio

Rebecca Harrold is a free-lance pianist who recently became principal pianist for Boston Ballet’s newest studio in Marblehead, MA.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rebecca spent many years working as a pianist and singer at Playhouse Square Cleveland,OH. She helped to stage and create innovative multimediaprogram which served the Playhouse Square Foundation for all of their live music productions, working in co-operation with Belkin productions and Cleveland Civic Center.
Since moving to the Boston area she worked extensively with The Company Theater, the Voice Studio of Robert Honeysucker, and recently with Burklyn Ballet of Vermont. She has had the privilege of working with Stephen Schwartz as a principal pianist for the IRNE award-winning production of “The Baker’s Wife”.
Rebecca is not only an excellent pianist but is a vocal soloist for Faith in Action, a women’s jazz/
gospel a cappella group who has sung for “Dance on the Top Floor”, a locally produced extravaganza featuring area choreographers and members of the Boston Ballet. Faith in Action has also made an appearance on WGBH “Basic Black” featuring a music education workshop under the direction of Bobby Mcferrin. 
A true collaborative musician her abilities and willingness to play and sing diverse styles has taken her to Europe, Italy and Greece. As a lead singer, she has worked in Eye to Eye a Boston-based general business band and 4 time Boston Music Award winner, as a keyboard player and background singer in Lois Lane and the Daily Planets and Y.O.M.A.M.A an original rock band who she opened for Average White Band and the Guess Who.
As a composer, her original music has been featured on Malden Community Access T.V. while performingwith the band Y.O.M.A.M.A 2 songs were aired on local radio stations.
She has Music Directed for Turtle Lane Playhouse Children’s Theater (Newton, MA) Atrium School Children’s Theater (Watertown, MA), Walpole High School Drama Department(Walpole, MA), Temple Beth Avodah (Newton, MA) and Theater of Light (Salem, MA).
Rebecca is now a resident of Marblehead, MA and along with her steady employment with Boston Ballet, she has been playing in local venues to spread the good news of “live music” on the North Shore.
Additionally, Rebecca recently completed production on The River of Life with Windham Hills founder & producer, Will Ackerman. Available everywhere.

Band Members