Young British tenor saxophonist and composer Crockatt caught the ear of the cognoscenti for his Howeird album in 2009 – not least because his fellow Royal Academy alumnus Gwilym Simcock delivered some storming piano improvisations on it. With Simcock's departure, however, Crockatt's infectious and provocative compositions have recruited another dazzling pianist from the same source – last year's Mercury nominee Kit Downes. All the tunes except one are Crockatt's, but Downes's Sun and Moon opens the set: a playfully prancing piece of lopsided bebop, which the leader develops with nudges and rushes, giving way to a torrential Downes solo over the crisp polyrhythms of bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Ben Reynolds. Crockatt unwraps a low, purring tenor theme against the bass's countermelody before the piano shadows it on Trilogy; King Apple is a sly, bluesy solo sax canter; the title track is a yearning ballad that showcases the group's listening talents as well as its playing. Flood Tide is easily as good as Howeird: those of us who fretted about the post-Simcock Crockatt needn't have worried.
Sam Crockatt: Flood Tide – review
John Fordham is the Guardian's main jazz critic. He has written several books on the subject, reported on it for publications including Time Out, Sounds, Wire and Word, and contributed to documentaries for radio and TV. He is a former editor of Time Out, City Limits and Jazz UK, and regularly contributes to BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3