Perhaps no one has interpreted Radiohead as well as pianist Brad Mehldau. His covers not only do justice to the mood, melodies and textures we love Radiohead for, but they are always distinctly Mehldau (one of the reasons he's garnered such a following). Keep an ear out for "Exit Music" and more Mehldau-Radiohead covers ("Paranoid Android," "Knives Out") when Mehldau's Trio comes to SFJAZZ Novemeber 10-11.
"Maiden Voyage / Everything In Its Right Place" (Robert Glasper)
At a time when mash-ups were the rage, Robert Glasper (always hip to the times) mashed Herbie Hancock's classic "Maiden Voyage" melody over Radiohead's heady, odd-time "Everything In Its Right Place." Runner-up goes to Glasper Trio's sumptuous cover of Radiohead's "Reckoner," heard at the 33rd Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival back in June (find it on his new album Covered).
"The Eraser" (Christian Scott)
Although technically not a Radiohead cover ("The Eraser" is the title track off Thom York's debut solo album), Christian Scott captures the mood beautifully with his Harmon-induced "whisper technique" over a grainy piano vamp. Even York dug it, inviting Scott up to the stage to perform "The Eraser" at the Roseland Ballroom back in 2010!
Known well for its covers, The Bad Plus have interpreted Nirvana, Niel Young, Aphex Twin, Black Sabbath, Pixies and Stravinsky. Not until the compilation album Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads did the longstanding trio put its sonic stamp on Radiohead's "Karma Police." Now, if only Joshua Redman got on this track when The Bad Plus Joshua Redman comes to town in December!
"The National Anthem" (Chris Dave / Meshell Ndegeocello)
Off the same Exit Music compilation, Chris Dave and Meshell Ndegeocello's "The National Anthem" takes the edgy rock vamp of Radiohead's original and makes it super funky. Ndegeocello, using tasteful effects, doesn't imitate Thom York (impossible to do, which is why most Radiohead covers here are instrumental). The go-go veteran does her own thing, and it works. Fans of "The National Anthem" probably dig the raw horn lines. Chris "Daddy" Dave gives the horns even more space to experiment.
Want more Radiohead covers? Check out SFJAZZ's "Radiohead Meets Jazz" Playlist!