Will Hermes
June 06, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Boogaloo to Beck: A Tribute

Current Status
In Season
David Fathead Newman, Dr. Lonnie Smith

We gave it a B+

There’s a long, not-always-noble tradition of jazzbos and classical types interpreting pop (see the Taliesin Orchestra’s recent Enya tribute, Thread of Time, etc.). But these alt-rock reimaginings stand out for how well their forms fit the content. A concert pianist, O’Riley is better known for performing Stravinsky and Scriabin; True Love Waits: Christopher O’Riley Plays Radiohead is a solo recital of Radiohead transcriptions he wrote himself, and despite a few lurches into Liberace territory, the readings are delicate and swooning–especially the stately “Karma Police” and a brooding “Everything in Its Right Place.” As Riley divines Radiohead’s British high-culture heart, turbaned jazz-funk organist Dr. Lonnie Smith zeroes in on Beck’s cheesy lounge-lizard soul. Tenor-sax vet Newman swaggers like a bear in a smoking jacket, guitarist Doug Munro adds some angular riffs, and Smith rocks the Hammond with a trigger-happy hand and the occasional glossolalic outburst (“Devil’s Haircut”). WHAT, NO BREAKBEATS? Both sets argue that melodies, not sound science, make the music–a quaint idea that’s not untrue. True Love Waits: B+ Boogaloo: B+

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