Chris Mason-Battley Group - Jazz Infused With True Kiwi Flavour
09 Nov 2003 // A review by Shade
In a New Zealand jazz landscape strewn with copycats a few courageous breakaway outfits attempt to create a jazz that is truly Kiwi.
Among the current emerging supernovas are the Chris Mason-Battley Group, whose camaraderie as a band and original compositions struck a major chord with their Tauranga Arts Festival audience at Pacific Crystal Palace last night.
From the opening bars of drummer Steve Garden's solo air sculpture to the impetuous closing number Michelle the band displayed a finesse and competence which was musically satisfying as well as joyously entertaining. Graeme Webb's guitar playing (last heard in Tauranga with Caitlin Smith) has matured - his lyrical lines and singing tone complemented the well travelled saxophone of Chris Mason-Battley.
At times reminiscent of bands such as Yellow Jackets and Spyrogyra, the free-running rhythm section provided sympathetic support for the interplay between the fine front-line musicians.
David Lines' Lyle Mays influenced piano was featured to good effect on the moving Faces of the Land. His muscular blues solo on Mason-Battley's 4 by 4 Blues was also particularly notable.
A deconstructed romp through Ellingtons Caravan provided a good opportunity for the band to stretch out. But the strength of the concert was in the stylish originals. Among the gems were Webb's hypnotic Seventually and the acid jazz Groovity.
The festival organisers are to be congratulated for opening the festival with such fine fare. It was a rare and uplifting experience to witness a well oiled fusion band in full flight.
Reviewer: Liam Ryan,
Bay of Plenty Times, Saturday November 1, 2003
About Chris Mason-Battley Group
The Chris Mason-Battley Group's debut album, 'Karakia', was a finalist for 'Jazz Album of the Year' at the 2000 Tui awards, and has been one of the most successul NZ albums on the US site MP3.com.
Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Chris Mason-Battley Group
Their latest release, a double album, shows two sides of the bands sound. 'Side A' features 10 new songs which build on the spacious 'jazz meets filmscore' sound heard on Karakia. 'Side B' presents a more acid jazz sound by Luna, a subset of the Chris Mason-Battley Group.
Chris also performs with Blue Train.