Hat & Beard: The Music Of Thelonious Monk (Trio 13; Canada)
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

This disc was recorded live at Somewhere There (Toronto) in April of 2009. As any seasoned jazz guitarist can tell you, playing Monk's music on the guitar is no easy matter. All songs by Thelonious Monk were written and played by by Monk at the piano, hence it is a challenge to play them on the guitar. This is the first time I can recall a duo of guitar & drums playing just Monk songs. The "52nd Street Theme" is a bebop standard and it swings with an infectious glee while Mr. Clark does a bit of silly background vocalizations which does add a certain charm. The duo often strip down these songs to there skeletal elements. "Locomotive" is one of the more obscure Monk tunes and it lunges in ways as if it were about to fall over. Since there is no bassist, Mr. Clark often plays both roles using his bass drum for the bass throb and using brushes to swing the groove. On "Green Chimneys" Ken strums furiously as if the building was on fire or that he is being pursued by Monk's ghost. Mr. Clark gets into a sort of funk/rock like beat in the second half, which is an unexpected delight. The duo do a fine job of taking liberties with structure of these songs and turning them inside out. You can tell that these guys are having fun and that their feelings are infectious. It made me feel like I didn't want to really review this disc just listen to it and dance around the kitchen and just feel good. Bound to make you smile and good for what ails you.