Jazz piano star Brad Mehldau recorded instrumental versions of a few Radiohead songs long before Chris O'Riley, who is a fine classical pianist, based a whole album on them.

Jazz piano star Brad Mehldau recorded instrumental versions of a few Radiohead songs long before Chris O'Riley, who is a fine classical pianist, based a whole album on them. More to the point, Mehldau's improvisational élan enabled him to use the undeniably lovely Radiohead melodies as a mere starting point for elaboration, much as he would with a Gershwin tune. Bound to the printed page of his transcriptions, O'Riley's renditions can come across with a faintly new-age vibe, despite his bell-like tone and subtle touch. Radiohead fans will hear this music—sans the sound of the band and Thom Yorke's lyrical voice—as little better than Muzak; newcomers may be forgiven for wondering how an avant-rock band's material could have so little edge. Mehldau never misleads. Despite his best intentions, O'Riley does.—BB

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print