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A Jazz Pianist's Cinematic 'Fantasy'

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Harold O'Neal is a jazz pianist with an unusual resume. Born in Tanzania and raised in Kansas City, Miss., O'Neal is also a hip-hop dancer, martial artist and actor. He's just released a new album with an unusual back story of its own: Marvelous Fantasy is a largely improvised collection of solo piano pieces, an homage to the music of silent films.

"Each one of these pieces is a soundtrack in itself," says O'Neal, whose style has been pegged by critics as straddling the line between jazz and classical. "When I was a kid and first started playing, I didn't know nothing about different styles of music, like most kids. ... I wanted to make a record that someone did not have to be a jazz aficionado or a classical enthusiast to be able to appreciate."

Guy Raz speaks with Harold O'Neal about making Marvelous Fantasy, and O'Neal performs live at NPR.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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