Chris gained his first professional experience with Dudu Pukwana's Zila aged 17, at the suggestion of Harry Beckett. He subsequently became a founder member,composer and soloist with Loose Tubes, contributing many pieces to the repertoire of the band from 1984-1990. He was also very active at this time as a member of legendary world music trailblazers 3 Mustaphas 3, as well as enjoying a varied diet of gigs with Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Congolese soukous band Taxi Pata Pata and Ashley Slater's Microgroove.

As a sideman, Chris has appeared alongside many international stars, such as Michael Brecker, Sam Rivers, Hermeto Pascoal, Uri Caine, John Taylor and the Jazz Passengers with Deborah Harry. He has enjoyed a long term playing partnership with altoist Steve Buckley in their bands Orchestra Rafiki, Buckley /Batchelor Quartet and with their award winning international collaboration Big Air, featuring pianist Myra Melford and drummer Jim Black.

The music that Buckley and Batchelor wrote for the Jazz on 3 commission that brought Big Air together subsequently won them a BBC Jazz Award for Best New Work in 2001. Their 2009 release entitled Big Air was described by Brian Morton in Jazz Journal as "the best British jazz record for 20 years". In November 2009 Chris was selected to receive the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers.

He currently leads two groups, Pigfoot which is dedicated to reinterpretations of iconic repertoire from Mozart to Elvis, and the chamber jazz group Zoetic, featuring fellow Loose Tubes guitarist John Parricelli, which he formed to play his own wide ranging compositions.

He also co-leads Total Vibration (with Laura Jurd) dedicated to playing the music of Ornette Coleman, and Zone-B, in which he continues his long and fruitful association with altoist Steve Buckley.