I picked up an event calendar from famed Denver jazz club, Dazzles, and noticed an interesting show: Rekha Ohal presents the music of Radiohead. Don’t mind if I do! Ohal put together a quartet to explore some of Radiohead’s darker music. I anticipated a sort of greatest hits set and that, to my delight, was not the case. Also, I envisioned a slightly more traditional jazz interpretation and was surprised to find Ohal on piano and keyboard supported by drums and two electric guitars. One guitar had an E string tuned for bass lines and both were drenched in effects. Despite that sounding like a more rock ‘n roll set up, band members took turns exploring each composition with extended, improvisational jams.
As mentioned, the group played with some deep tracks and a lot of music from In Rainbows and Hail to the Thief, which actually have sort of jazzy roots with keys and interesting guitar phrasings to begin with. They did moody and brilliant takes on “Reckoner” and “Weird Fishes” as well as “Scatterbrain” and I even think “Punch Up at a Wedding” was in there. The only “classic” Radiohead might have been “Fake Plastic Trees.”
The band did a a great job locking down Radiohead’s buoyant atmospherics and Rekha added her own charm to Thom Yorke’s haunting vocals. Band members appeared to be well-acquainted with Radiohead, but Rekha may have heard some of these songs for the first time when she played them. She seemed surprised by some of the lyrics and musical changes, but being a consummate musician never missed a step. It was actually impressive if that was the case. Following “Everything in its Right Place” she exclaimed, “wow, that’s a great song!” The one Radiohead song that she plays often, “Fake Plastic Trees” was one they “messed up” but with true jazz chops the band reacted with ease and essentially improv’d a new arrangement.