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CD Review: Sam Crockatt Quartet – Flood Tide

Sam Crockatt Quartet – Flood Tide
(Babel BDV1199. CD review by Chris Parker)

This, the second album from saxophonist Sam Crockatt, features almost the same band as his first, Howeird, pianist Gwilym Simcock having been replaced by Kit Downes, but bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Ben Reynolds remaining.

The resultant slight change of musical emphasis, from the often sumptuous mellifluousness of Simcock to the slightly more ‘out there’, edgy feel of Downes, is immediately apparent in the album’s opener, ‘Sun and Moon’, a joyously cascading theme, written by the pianist, with an almost Jarrett-like dancing energy infused throughout its five-minute length.

The rest of the compositions are Crockatt’s, and they range from the downright jaunty (‘King Apple’) to the multi-hued (‘Trilogy’), appropriately mellow and meditative (‘The Prophet’, inspired by the philosophy of Kahlil Gibran), and groove-based (‘The Golden Goose’), but whatever mode they’re in, Crockatt’s band showcase his elegant, poised but surprisingly robust (and occasionally affectingly grainy) saxophone sound extremely effectively.

‘The antidote to the thrashy punk jazz sound of their peers’ is how their publicity sums up the band’s approach, and there is indeed an open-hearted feel to their music, but there is also enough complexity (particularly in Downes’s contributions) and sheer rhythmic variety (even the odd burst of free playing) to make this an absorbing as well as immediately attractive album.

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