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19

sunday

Christopher O’Riley leads a rich life. He hosts NPR’s From the Top, rearranges and records Stravinsky and Scriabin works, and posts foxy pictures of his girlfriend on his Web site. And from time to time he transcribes Radiohead, Nick Drake, and Elliott Smith songs for solo piano. O’Riley’s not, however, your typical loser jazz musician gritting his teeth and recasting pop songs for commercial gain—his treatments of these artists’ tunes home in on a sonic or melodic element and burrow. A treatment of Drake’s “Parasite,” for example, mimicks the late guitarist’s lambent fingerwork with his left hand while his right intentionally stumbles when the notes turn blue. Still, you have to wonder: With so much going for him, why is O’Riley drawn to artists whose work is, to be charitable, depressing as hell? If I were his new kitten Elliott (whose arrival is, of course, documented on O’Riley’s site as well), I’d be nervous. O’Riley performs the music of Smith and Radiohead at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $30. (202) 467-4600. (Andrew Beaujon)