Harvey Mason’s Chameleon 18th November @ Band On The Wall

Harvey Mason Live

Tonight was the first leg of Harvey Mason’s Chameleon European tour, and luckily for the people of Manchester, that this was the only UK performance outside the UK and Ronnie Scott’s. You have not heard of his name before but you have probably heard is playing as one of the most respected and sought after session drummers in the world. He was also part of Herbie Hancock’s 1970’s jazz funk fusion pioneers the “Head Hunters”.

The ever fluid line up of Mr Mason’s Chameleon European tour was as follows; the forward thinking Mark De Clive-Low of Keys and electronic manipulation,  Kamasi Washington (the son of legendary saxophonist Grover Washington Junior) who has recently been working with other musical legends Stanley Clark and Chaka Khan,  and session bass player and heavyweight teacher Earnest Tibbs. Both Mark De Clive-Low and Kamasi Washington both play on Mr Mason’s new release Chameleon.  The night consisted of two sets, the first mainly coming from Mr Mason’s new album which consists of thoughtful re-works of some of his finest playing for other artists releases, as well as his own and joint compositions. The second set began with a cover of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and then continued with some of his most well known recordings with an eagerly awaited showcasing of his unique talents of synchronising each component of his drum kit.

With musician’s of this calibre it was difficult to expect anything short of superb from the players, and they lived up to their individual reputations. Marc De Clive- Low on keys did not disappoint with his forward thinking approach to technology, adding extra depth to the music, keeping the jazz-fusion funk current. He reminded me of Herbie Hancock, not just in his approach to music, but the fact that he can properly utilise the technology he has to bring more out of his music. He is not just a one trick pony like many ‘Producers’ out there now.  His sweeping piano solos proved that the has one foot deeply rooted in Jazz were equally as impressive. Kamasi Washington’s playing on both Tenor and Soprano Saxophone were a joy to hear and his improvisations were at times transfixing. Earnest Tibbs did not disappoint either, always following Mr Mason, and anticipating his every mood. I was as equally impressed with both the work from his new album as well as with their performances of “Head Hunters ” numbers such as “Sly” and “Chameleon”. After this sterling performance I will be dusting off my copies of Mr Mason’s back catalogue as well as searching out work from the other band members.