Guitar Week: Guitar and Drums Roundup, freejazzblog.org
Review: Hat & Beard "Reflections" (TRP-018)
BY: Paul Acquaro
I love Monk. I love guitar. I love spare arrangements that lay bare tune’s nooks and crannies. I love songs that have nooks and crannies. So with Hat and Beard, a guitar & drum duo that plays Thelonious Monk, what’s not to love?
Guitarist Ken Aldcroft and drummer Dave Clark released the excellent Hat & Beard Live at Somewhere There a few years back and Reflections is possibly even better. With a strong clean tone and some bite, Aldcroft plays it just right, letting Monk’s delightful tunes breath.
Highlight include the title track, 'Reflections' - just listen as its austere and delicate melody winds around the implied pulse of Clark's drums, providing color and leaving the listener with just wisps of song. The following upbeat and full-bodied 'San Francisco Holiday' is a great contrast. The melody is delivered with vigor, and the duo sounds incredibly full, even when deep into an unpredictable improvisation. The spirited playing on 'Five Spot Blues' is a show stopper, Clark and Aldcroft build to up to an irresistibly enjoyable fever.
So, another entertaining and delightful romp though the Monk songbook from Hat and Beard.