Chris Abrahams is perhaps best known as the piano player of the long-form improv trio, the Necks—an Australian band that has built up quite an international following over the last thirty years. In that time he also has developed a formidable reputation as a solo pianist.
Abrahams’ piano music explores the resonating properties of the vibrating piano string, coaxing from it strange, varied and beautiful sounds that often transcend the generally observed tonal qualities of the instrument. At times his approach borders on the electronic, acoustically modeling reverbs, distortion, delays and low frequency oscillations.
Tonight he performs new work, as he makes his Chicago solo debut.
Chris Abrahams (b.1961, Oamaru, New Zealand) grew up in Sydney, Australia and became active in the local jazz scene in the early 80’s, playing with several groups including the Benders—a modern jazz-influenced band that he formed with bassist Lloyd Swanton in 1982.
In 1984 he recorded and released Piano, his first solo album, followed by Walk (1986). Abrahams became a founding member of the Sydney indie rock band the Sparklers in 1985, and began working regularly with singer and songwriter Melanie Oxley. He collaborated with Oxley, writing songs and producing albums throughout the 90’s.
Abrahams and Swanton joined by drummer Tony Buck began rehearsing together in 1986, forming the Necks. According to Abrahams in a 2010 article in The Guardian, “I don’t think we ever really verbalized it. Intuitive is the best word. Before that I’d operated on the concept of developing what you did to a level of competence and then presenting it to an audience. But for me, the Necks brought an understanding that things can find a way of becoming other things while you’re performing. That was such a big breakthrough for me that once I’d crossed the line, I had a whole different way of playing.”
In 2001 he released a third solo piano album, Glow, followed by Streaming (2003), Thrown (2004), Play Scar (2010) and Memory Night (2013). New solo work includes Fluid to The Influence (2016). Abrahams has collaborated with many contemporary improvising musicians including Burkhard Beins, Alessandro Bosetti, Clare Cooper, Mike Cooper and Anthony Pateras. He performs regularly in Australia and Europe.
Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society; organized in cooperation with the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts