Harold Todd
Instruments Select
"Black boys don’t play flute." So were the words of Harold Todd's high school band leader nearly thirty years ago. We'd like to think that Harold mastered the flute just to prove something to that erroneous old instructor, but the fact is that he was born to play – and he isn't going to let anyone tell him otherwise.
Since the high school band, Harold has become an accomplished songwriter, drawing from classical, jazz, rock, reggae, funk, house and dance formats. And he's just as diverse an instrumentalist, wrecking it as much on flute and sax as he is on clarinet, oboe and English horn.
For the last ten years, Harold has been playing woodwinds with Lenny Kravitz, but his life in music began when he was ten years old, singing "Swing Low" solo for the fifth grade Christmas Pageant. When his voice changed, he had to dream up another way of singing. Enter the flute.
Some people call him a flutist, some opt for the classically-minded flautist, but Harold isn't concerned with syntax – he's just a player. And like a true player, Harold has done nothing but play. He started at the San Francisco Conservatory and by fourteen was competing for scholarships in the San Francisco Bay. In 1976, he won musician of the year. Then, he won scholarships to Mendocino and Aspen music festivals, as well as second prize in the E-Bell Club Award and musical and athletic scholarships to UC Irvine, where he honed his classical agility as principle flute in the UC Orchestra.
His professional career began at age 21, when Harold picked up the saxophone and moved to San Diego. He began playing with Common Sense, a legendary SoCal reggae, funk crew before enjoying lengthy stints with Goldfish, the B-Side Players, Psydecar and Greyboy Allstars. Then, rocker Lenny Kravitz heard Harold perform and asked him to collaborate. Harold’s been with Lenny for ten years on saxes and flute, recording on Five, Circus and two DVD performances.
Harold then went on a creative sojourn to Frankfurt (Wiesbaden), Germany, where he recorded three albums. Revealed, Treat Me Right and Thinker’s Journey collectively represent Harold’s agility as a performer, as well as his diverse and meticulous style as a singer/songwriter. Revealed is a synthesis of traditional and modern jazz with electronica influences. Treat Me Right, Harold says, is music for music lovers – an acoustic album featuring classical and pop instrumental styles. And Thinker's Journey is a cerebral take on poppy tunes from various genres.
Harold Todd is a humble, classically-trained musician who makes classical music cool – an eclectic performer who redefines contemporary songwriting by employing progressive, European club beats and funky American phrasing. He’ll knock you off the dance floor with his flute, woo you back with his sax and engage you in a physical discourse with his arrangements. Translation: grab a date and get your groove on – Harold Todd's in the house.