All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Beppe Crovella: What’s Rattlin’ On The Moon? A Personal Vision Of The Music Of Mike Ratledge.

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
The sub-title makes all the difference here. Mike Ratledge was a key member of all the most worthwhile line-ups of Soft Machine, but alone amongst the quartet that consisted of himself, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt, he didn't go on to develop a solo career once he left the band. This and the passing of time, have had the effect of setting a seal on his music, but Italian composer/keyboardist/producer, Beppe Crovella has not only broken it, he's also opened Ratledge's music to an unprecedented level of scrutiny.

Crovella wisely doesn't try to reproduce Ratledge's sonic palette. Instead, he opts for teasing out the music's less obvious qualities. On "Chloe and the Pirates," this takes the form of highlighting the composer's sly melodic sense even while quasi-ambient notions come to the fore in a manner that was never a hallmark of his work.

This impression is due in part to the fact that Crovella utilizes a mellotron, perhaps the keyboard instrument furthest removed from Ratledge's sonic palette, on "Tarabos." He indulges his penchant for deconstruction on this one too, and the results are mighty effective in the way they highlight how the music can withstand not merely the personal vision but also the wholesale re-imagining.

Crovella knows his history too. "Pig" fades in like some of those vintage Soft Machine performances there's now an abundance of on record, and he goes on to flirt with the relatively faceless fusion that the band peddled in their later incarnations. This however is his prerogative. For all the surface histrionics there's still a fearsome intelligence at work, one which is permissive of only minimal self-indulgence.

The sly humor of the reworking of "Esther's Nose Job" marks the attitude of a man who's drunk deeply from the well. The almost defiant electricity of Ratledge's playing is perhaps willfully subverted here by an acoustic piano interlude that happily stays well clear of the cocktail lounge before the mellotron rears again, giving rise to impressions of the mock epic at odds with Ratledge's playing.

This however is counter-balanced by Crovella's own music, which is no mere outgrowth of Ratledge's. "Moon Geezers (to Elton & Hugh) is as gentle a homage as one could wish for, but in the looking back it implies Crovella isn't circumspect about simultaneously mapping out his own territory. The potentially sterile is thus avoided with aplomb.

Track Listing: Tarabos; Chloe And The Pirates; All White; The Man Who Waved At Trains; As If; Hibou, Anemone And Bear; Out-bloody-rageous; Pig; Esther's Nose Job; Slightly All The Time; Leonardo's email; Moon Vision; Many Moons, Many Junes; Lunar Impression; Circular Lines In The Air; Moon Geezers (to Elton & Hugh).

Personnel: Beppe Crovella: organ, piano, electric piano, clavinet, mellotron.

Title: What’s Rattlin’ On The Moon? A Personal Vision Of The Music Of Mike Ratledge. | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Moonjune Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read From Silence to Somewhere CD/LP/Track Review
From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "PausaLive" CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Way Out West" CD/LP/Track Review Way Out West
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 16, 2018
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Into A Myth" CD/LP/Track Review Into A Myth
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "Fukushima" CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 22, 2017