Some music critics have complained that there are too many tribute albums in the jazz world. But truth be told, there is nothing wrong with tribute albums as long as the person paying tribute takes some chances and doesn't allow his/her individuality to become obscured. Whether the focus of the tribute is Clifford Brown, the Doors, June Christy, Stephen Sondheim, or Ivan Lins, the more interesting jazz tribute albums are the individualistic ones. Italian keyboardist Beppe Crovella, thankfully, gets that, which is why What's Rattlin' on the Moon?: A Personal Vision of the Music of Mike Ratledge is as intriguing as it is. That title is an accurate description of this 76-minute fusion CD because Crovella's tribute to British keyboardist/composer Mike Ratledge (who is known for, among other things, his contributions to Soft Machine) does, in fact, sound personal. Crovella's admiration for Ratledge comes through, but that doesn't mean that he tries to sound exactly like him. Crovella, rather, salutes Ratledge on his own terms, and What's Rattlin' on the Moon? never becomes boring. The fact that Crovella (who is unaccompanied and plays a variety of electric keyboards) plays the same instrument as Ratledge could have been problematic, but Crovella is careful to avoid emulating his idol. What's Rattlin' on the Moon? takes chances; this 2010 release is about admiration and respect, but it isn't it about emulation. And even though jazz purists and bop snobs would argue that Crovella's jazz-rock is really just instrumental rock, the fact that he is operating in the electric realm doesn't mean that he isn't jazz-minded. Being rock-influenced doesn't prevent Crovella from maintaining an improvisatory jazz mentality throughout his memorable homage to Ratledge.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson