We’ll wait to see whether it joins “cool jazz” and “post-bop” in the jazz lexicon, but jazz has entered the “Radiohead Era,” according to Jonathan Zwickel in Down Beat (article not available online).
Down Beat certainly isn’t the first to notice that it’s become common for hip young jazz musicians to cover songs by Radiohead, one of rock’s most sonically innovative groups. The practice has almost become almost de rigueur among a certain crowd. Brad Mehldau, Marco Benevento, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Petra Haden, and the Bad Plus are among the players to have interpreted the band’s murkily majestic music.
Zwickel attributes the connection in part to Radiohead’s “balancing act between innovation and communication. Radiohead speaks clearly to the masses, but in its own language.”
“For me and my friends, jazz includes Radiohead,” Reed Mathis, bassist in Benevento’s trio and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, tells Zwickel. “Thom Yorke has synthesized rock ’n’ roll forms with harmony that sounds like Rachmaninoff and Chopin—a weepy, dramatic, late-19th century thing.”