October 28, 2012: #62 – Hat & Beard
“Hat and Beard” is Eric Dolphy’s tribute-through-looking-glass piece for Thelonious Monk on the classic Blue Note recording, Out to Lunch! Like its namesake composition, this pair pays Monk’s perennially vanguard music fair respect by re-envisioning it in an unconventional way. Ken Aldcroft and Dave Clark have absorbed huge chunks of Monk’s songbook, and traipse both down well-trodden paths with familiar material like “Epistrophy” and through the thornier thicket of little-tackled gems like “Brilliant Corners”. Overtly, Ken tends to play the straight man in the face of Dave’s combination of chops and comedic flair that is reminiscent of none other than Han Bennink. At times though – like Bennink’s Monk-theorist foil, Misha Mengelberg – Ken can subvert the tune from within it, and playfully prod Dave to keep up with him. In this way, Hat and Beard is a fun and joyful romp through one of the great compositional legacies of the past century.