Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Massey, Chris (Christopher James)

Massey, Chris (Christopher James), drums; b. Buffalo, NY, 17 February 1959. He's the son of Raymond P. Massey of Pennsylvania and MaryAnne Elizebeth Kerl of Buffalo.

He showed a musical interest from an early age having studied guitar and piano, and began playing drums at age 12 and subsequently attended St. Josephs Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, NY from 1973-1977 where he performed with the St. Joe's Lab Band under director Russell Owens. He also attended master classes with then Buffalo Philharmonic conductor Michael Tilson-Thomas, which had a profound effect on his musical direction. St. Joseph's yearly performances in the Berklee College of Music High School Band Competition earned Massey an "Award for Outstanding Musical Performance" by the National Assoc. of Jazz Educators in 1977 and he then attended Berklee for the years 1977-1979. While at Berklee College of Music (Boston, Mass.) he studied with drummers Joe Hunt and Lenny Nelson and with saxophonist Billy Pierce. He also attended private lessons with then-Gary Burton drummer Danny Gottlieb. During his time in Boston, MA, he performed with numerous Berklee alumni including composer Michael Gibbs & pianist Jon Gorr, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, trumpeter Scott Getchell, saxophonist Matt Derriau, norwegian saxophonist Erik Balke and with guitarist Michael Leasure's Quintet which included bassist Brain Derek. He also met and performed with saxophonist Brian Gephart with whom he moved to New York City in 1980. Life in NYC was fruitful with gigs and recordings with such artists as French hornist Tom Varner, pianist Tim Hill, guitarist Michael Hogan, bassist Dave LaRue, bassist Kermit Driscoll and with the remarkable guitarist Bill Frisell, with whom Massey and Brian Gephart formed the group AtmoSpheres and recorded an LP and played in the NYC area. Returning back to Buffalo, NY in 1984 proved to be a stroke of luck when Massey met and invited the poet Robert Creeley to perform and record and an artistic relationship was formed which lasts to the present day with numerous CD's and live performances. The 80's were full of travel for Massey with trips to the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Lines, where he performed for 7 months in the islands with an authentic reggae/ calypso band, and a short time in Bloomington, Indiana where he met and performed with pianist Jim Beard, bassist Robert Hearst, drummer Shawn Pelton, and guitarist David Grissom. Another move to Austin, Texas in 1987 brought Massey into numerous playing situations, most notably forming the group Arson with guitarist Chris Duarte. This band won the Austin Chronicle "Best Jazz Group" award in 1987 and included saxophonists John Mills and Alex Coke and bassist John Jordan. Massey also performed with singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave, Dwain Dennison's Cargo Cult; which featured singer Randy "Bisquit" Turner, Tina Marsh's Creative Opportunity Orchestra, and pianist Floyd Domino A return to Woodstock, NY was a prescient move in 1996 when Massey formed the group "forever sharp and vivid" with guitarist David Torn and saxophonist David Casy to wonderful critical acclaim. Playboy Magazine called this group the "Sound of a Velvet Fist!" This group went on to include bassist Steve Swallow and poet Robert Creeley, recording a powerful "live" CD and touring on the East Coast and NYC to rave reviews. Massey finally moved to Switzerland in 1998 and began working with such artists as saxophonist Simon Picard, guitarist Christy Doran, pianist Bob Degen, pianist John Wolf Brennan, saxophonist Hans Koch, guitarist/composer/horror fiction author/performance artist Marc Levinthal and many others. At this time (2000) he and saxophonist John Mills joined forces with bassist Steve Swallow to again work with the poet Robert Creeley which brought about another excellent Cd and live touring in the eastern US and Texas.Massey also began endorsing the Traditional Line cymbals by Paiste Cymbals in Nottwil, Switzerland. Massey currently lives in Langenthal, Switzerland with his wife Christina Roesti-Massey (born 1969 in Adelboden, Switzerland) and with his two sons: Jan-Erik Massey (born 1996 in Rhinebeck, NY) and Robin Ray Massey (born 2002 in Oberburg, Switzerland)

Atmospheres (with Bill Frisell) (1980); forever sharp and vivid (1998); Buffalo Return to the Plains with Jimmy LaFave;  Have We Told You All You'd Thought To Know? (2000); Courage - The way out is via the door. (with Robert Creeley and Steve Swallow) (2002); Unexpected Images (unreleased studio CD); EyePower (unreleased studio CD.); MountainDance (unreleased studio CD)

Contact information:
Chris Massey c/o:
Cuneiform Records: www.cuneiformrecords.com

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