Chris Abrahams

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Chris Abrahams
Chris Abrahams.jpg
(L to R): James Waples, Mike Majkowski, Chris Abrahams
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Robert Lionel Abrahams
Born (1961-04-09) 9 April 1961 (age 61)
Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Genres
Occupation(s)Musician
Instrument(s)
  • Piano
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • organ
Years active1980–present
Labels
  • Hot/Making Waves
  • Vegetable/Vitamin
  • Room40
  • Vegetable/MGM

Christopher Robert Lionel Abrahams (born 1961, Oamaru, New Zealand) is a New Zealand-born, Australian-based musician. He is a founding mainstay member of experimental, jazz trio the Necks (1987–present), he collaborated with Melanie Oxley as a soul pop duo (1989–2003) and has issued ten solo albums.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Christopher Robert Lionel Abrahams was born on 9 April 1961 in Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand.[1][2][3] Abrahams, on keyboards, formed jazz group Benders, in 1980 in Sydney with Dale Barlow on tenor saxophone, Louis Burdett on drums and Lloyd Swanton on bass guitar.[4][5][6] By the time Benders disbanded in 1985, Abrahams had performed on all three of their albums, E (1983), False Laughter (1984) and Distance (1985).[4][5][7] While still with Benders, late in 1983, he supplied piano for Laughing Clowns' second album, Law of Nature (1984).[4][5]

The Necks, Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams[edit]

The Sparklers were a dance pop group formed in 1985 by Abrahams on keyboards, Bill Bilson on drums (ex-Sunnyboys), Gerard Corben on guitar (ex-Lime Spiders), Ernie Finch on guitar and the Oxley siblings Melanie on lead vocals (ex-Sweet Nothings) and Peter on bass guitar (ex-Sunnyboys).[4][5] Colin Bloxsom took over lead guitar by the following year.[5][8] Sparklers released two singles, "Overworking" (October 1986) and "So Often Dreaming" (January 1987) before Abrahmas left.[4][8] The Sparklers issued their debut album, Persuasion, in 1988.[4][5]

The Necks were formed as a jazz trio, in 1987, by Abrahams on piano, keyboards, organ and guitar with former band mate, Swanton, on bass guitar and double bass, and Tony Buck on drums, percussion and guitar (ex-Great White Noise).[4][5][7] For his compositions with the group he has won two APRA Awards (Australia) for Most Performed Jazz Work; "Drive By" in 2005 and "Mosquito" in 2006.[9] As from March 2020 the trio have issued 16 studio albums.[10] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described their sonation, "abstract, improvised, jazzy mood music."[4]

Chris Abrahams (at right) and Lloyd Swanton, on double bass, performing with the Necks (2015) in Aarhus, Denmark

In 1989, while still with the Necks, Abrahams formed a soul pop duo, Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams, with former the Sparklers' band mate, Oxley.[4][5] They released a four-track extended play (EP), Resisting Calm, via Spiral Scratch in late 1990.[11] For that EP they used Abrahams' current and former band mates, Buck on drums, Swanton on acoustic bass guitar, Corben (ex-the Sparklers) on guitar as well as Mike Bukovsky on trumpet, Guy Dickerson on guitar, Stuart Eadie on floor toms and Jackie Orszaczky on bass guitar.[12] While periodically collaborating with Abrahams, Oxley maintained her career as a school teacher.[13]

The duo's first two albums, Welcome to Violet (1992) and Coal (1994), were released via Remote Records/MDS.[4][5] They were labelled as, "moody, emotive soul/pop" works by McFarlane.[4] Their next album, Jerusalem Bay (1998), had Hamish Stuart on drums (ex-Ayers Rock, Wig World, the Catholics) and Mike Bukowski on trumpet (ex-Ten Part Invention).[4] In 2001 the pair performed Abrahams' music for a radio travel documentary, South Island, which was broadcast by ABC Classic FM on 6 October 2003.[14] It was created, narrated and produced by Abrahams with The Listening Room's Sherre DeLys.[14][15]

Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams' next work, Blood Oranges, appeared in early 2003 via Remote Records/Vitamin Records.[16] The Sydney Morning Herald's John Shand found, "his lyrics are often bleaker than their past work, it is not a despairing bleakness, but one bolstered by stoicism, wit, hope and a love of beauty."[16] Jeremy Green of dB Magazine observed, "[it is] peculiarly ineffectual. It paws lazily at classic Motown pop but is totally sedated by dinky production and emotional primness."[17]

Solo work[edit]

Abrahams issued his debut solo album, Piano, in 1985 via Hot Records/Making Waves.[4][5][18] It was recorded at Sydney Opera House's Recording Hall and mastered at Studios 301.[19] Tony Mitchell of Cyclic Defrost described this album in 2017, "nine improvisations... it suggests a virtuoso pianist in the making."[19] After leaving the Sparklers, in 1987, he issued his second studio album, Walk.[4][5]

His fifth solo album, Thrown appeared in 2005 via Room40.[20] Cyclic Defrost's Max Schaefer noticed, "Technically formidable and conceptually refined, [he] pays homage to the piano by drawing it into tightly articulated and highly personalized forms."[20] Abrahams performed, produced and arranged the music for the Australian film, The Tender Hook (2008), which was released as the soundtrack album, The Tender Hook: Motion Picture Soundtrack.[21] At the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards his work was nominated for Best Original Music Score.[22][23]

Play Scar (2010), his seventh album, was reviewed by Oliver Laing of Cyclic Defrost, who declared, "[it] is the glorious sound of well-established artist willing to push the boundaries of sound and technique into new realms."[24] His next effort, Memory Night (2013), shows that "even at his most ominous is also quite listenable, creating jumbled, but still quite accessible soundscapes" according to 4ZZZ's Chris Cobroft.[25]

Abrahams has worked as a session musician on albums by the Triffids (Born Sandy Devotional, 1986), Ed Kuepper (Rooms of the Magnificent, 1986; Honey Steel's Gold, 1991; This Is the Magic Mile, 2005), Skunkhour (Skunkhour, 1993), the Apartments (A Life Full of Farewells, 1995; Apart, 1997; In and Out of the Light, 2020), the Church (Magician Among the Spirits, 1996), the Whitlams (Eternal Nightcap, 1997; Torch the Moon, 2002), Silverchair (Neon Ballroom, 1999), Midnight Oil (The Real Thing, 2000) and Wendy Matthews (Beautiful View, 2001).[5][10]

Musical style and composing[edit]

Some of Abrahams' music is experimental in nature—The Necks are an improvisational trio, and Abraham's performance at the Room40 Tenth Anniversary in London was labelled "ambient", "free-jazz" and "industrial noise" by (UK) Financial Times reviewer, Mike Hobart.[26] Chris Reid of RealTime magazine wrote of his Germ Studies collaboration with Clare Cooper, an organiser of the NOWnow Festival who played the Chinese zither on the album, that "it represents an extensive investigation into the endless range of sounds that can be created by combining the venerable DX7 synthesiser and the even more venerable Chinese zither, the guzheng [...] a deep exploration of musical language".[27]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Album details
Piano
  • Released: 1985[4][5]
  • Label: Hot Records (HOT 1014)
  • Format: LP
  • Note: Recorded at the Sydney Opera House
Walk
  • Released: 1987[4][5]
  • Label: Hot Records (HOT 1025)
  • Format: LP, CD
  • Note: Recorded at the Sydney Opera House
Welcome to Violet
(with Melanie Oxley)
  • Released: October 1992[28]
  • Label: Remote Music (Rem 1)
  • Format: CD
Coal
(with Melanie Oxley)
  • Released: October 1994
  • Label: Remote Music (Rem 2)
  • Format: CD
Jerusalem Bay
(with Melanie Oxley)
  • Released: December 1998[29]
  • Label: Remote Music (Rem 4)
  • Format: CD
Glow
  • Released: May 2001[4][30]
  • Label: Vegetable Records (VEGE001)
  • Format: CD
Blood Oranges
(with Melanie Oxley)
  • Released: April 2003[31]
  • Label: Remote Music (Rem 5)
  • Format: CD, digital
Streaming
  • Released: 2003[4][32]
  • Label: Vegetable Records (VEGE002)
  • Format: 2xCD, digital
Artery
(with Jon Rose, and Clayton Thomas)
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: the NOW now (cd002)
  • Format: CD, digital
Thrown
  • Released: 2005[33]
  • Label: Room40 (RM409)
  • Format: 2xCD, digital
Oceanic Feeling Like
(with Mike Cooper)
  • Released: 2008[33]
  • Label: Room40 (RM420)
  • Format: CD, digital
The Tender Hook: Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • Released: 2008[34]
  • Label: Vitamin Records (VT0043)
  • Format: CD, digital
Germ Studies
(with Clare Cooper)
  • Released: 2009[27][35]
  • Label: Splitrec (Splitrec19)
  • Format: 2×CD, digital
Play Scar
  • Released: 2010[36]
  • Label: Room40 (RM437)
  • Format: CD, digital
None of Them Would Remember It That Way
(with Lucio Capece)
  • Released: March 2012
  • Label: Mikroton Recordings (mikroton cd 13)
  • Format: CD
None of Them Would Remember It That Way
(with Alessandro Bosetti)
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Mikroton Recordings (mikroton cd 19)
  • Format: CD
Kopfüberwelle
(with Sabine Vogel)
  • Released: December 2012
  • Label: absinthRecords (absinthRecords 024)
  • Format: CD
Memory Night
  • Released: 2013[37]
  • Label: Room40 (RM453)
  • Format: CD, digital
Gardenier
(with Magda Mayas)
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Relative Pitch Records (RPR1011)
  • Format: CD
Luv / Kopfüberwelle
(with Sabine Vogel)
  • Released: 2014
  • Label: Another Timbre (at76)
  • Format: CD
  • Note: As part of The Berlin Series
Fluid to the Influence
  • Released: April 2016[38]
  • Label: Room40 (RM464)
  • Format: CD, LP, digital
Climb
  • Released: 2016[39]
  • Label: Vegetable Records (VEGE003)
  • Format:
Peggy
(with Jon Rose)
  • Released: 2018
  • Label: ReR Megacorp (RER JRCA)
  • Format: CD
Sink
(with Arthur Rother, Andrea Ermke, Marcello Silvio Busato)
  • Released: 2019
Next to Nothing
(with Ignaz Schick)
  • Released: July 2020
  • Label: Zarek (ZORA14)
  • Format: Digital
Appearance
  • Released: November 2020
  • Label: Room40 (RM4132)
  • Format: CD, Digital
Praxis
(with Mike Cooper)
  • Released: December 2020
  • Label: Room40 (DRM487)
  • Format: Digital
Weft
(with Robbie Avenaim and Jim Denley)
Words Fail
(with Clayton Thomas & Miles Thomas)
  • Released: September 2021
  • Label: Hospital Hill (HHLP03210751)
  • Format: 2×LP

Extended plays[edit]

Title EP details
Resisting Calm
(with Melanie Oxley)
  • Released: December 1990[11]
  • Label: Spiral Scratch (0008)
  • Format: CD, LP

Awards and nominations[edit]

APRA Awards[edit]

The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).[41]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 "Drive By" (with Lloyd Swanton and Anthony Buck) Most Performed Jazz Work[9] Won
2006 "Chemist" (with Swanton and Buck) Most Performed Jazz Work[42] Won
2019[43] "Body" (with Swanton and Buck) Song of the Year Shortlisted

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards are a set of annual ceremonies presented by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), which recognise excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of the music of Australia. They commenced in 1987.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1993 Welcome to Violet (with Melanie Oxley) ARIA Award for Best Independent Release Nominated [44]

Helpmann Awards[edit]

The Helpmann Awards is an awards show, celebrating live entertainment and performing arts in Australia, presented by industry group Live Performance Australia since 2001.[45] Note: 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2009 FOOD COURT (with Back to Back Theatre and The Necks) Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work Nominated [46]
FOOD COURT (The Necks, Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck & Lloyd Swanton) Helpmann Award for Best Original Score Nominated

References[edit]

General
  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2022. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
Specific
  1. ^ "'Living in a Jar' at APRA search engine". APRA AMCOS (Australasian Performing Right Association, Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society). Retrieved 3 March 2002.
  2. ^ Shand, John (2002). "Abrahams, Chris(topher)". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 6–7. ISBN 1561592846.
  3. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Radio National; Abrahams (guest, producer), Chris; DeLys (guest, producer), Sheree; Yahp (presenter), Beth (13 February 2010), South Island, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), retrieved 3 March 2022
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r McFarlane, 'Chris Abrahams' entry. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Australian Rock Database entries:
    • Chris Abrahams: Holmgren, Magnus. "Chris Abrahams". Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 19 March 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
    • The Laughing Clowns: Holmgren, Magnus. "The Laughing Clowns". Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 16 January 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
    • The Sparklers: Holmgren, Magnus. "The Sparklers". Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 12 November 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
    • The Necks: Holmgren, Magnus. "The Necks". Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 19 March 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
    • Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams: Holmgren, Magnus. "Melanie Oxley". Australian Rock Database. Archived from the original on 28 October 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  6. ^ Jackson, Adrian (28 October 1983). "Make Way for the Benders". The Age. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b Swift, Brendan. "Chris Abrahams – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b Sutton, Pollyanna (2 April 1987). "Melanie Oxley Flexes Her Powerful Voice". The Canberra Times. Vol. 61, no. 18, 808. p. 9. Retrieved 6 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b "2005 Winners - APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 18 September 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  10. ^ a b Couture, François. "The Necks | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  11. ^ a b Oxley, Melanie; Abrahams, Chris (1990), Resisting Calm, Spiral Scratch, retrieved 4 March 2022
  12. ^ Resisting Calm (Media notes). Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams. Spiral Scratch Records. 1990. 12002.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  13. ^ Dwyer, Michael (4 July 2003). "Musical blood". The Age. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  14. ^ a b Abrahams, Chris; DeLys, Sherre (October 2003). "The Listening Room – 06/10/2003: October 2003". ABC Classic FM (Australian Broadcasting Corporaiton (ABC)). Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ Australia Council (2003). "Arts in Australia: Sherre DeLys". Australia Council for the Arts. Archived from the original on 17 July 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ a b Shand, John (15 April 2003). "Melanie Oxley and Chris Abrahams, The Basement". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 16 November 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ Green, Jeremy. "CD Reviews... Melanie Oxley & Chris Abrahams – Blood Oranges – Vitamin/Shock". dB Magazine Online. Archived from the original on 15 July 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ Rose, Jon (17 January 2003). "Forte Piano Solo – Chris Abrahams". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  19. ^ a b Mitchell, Tony (19 February 2017). "Chris Abrahams: The Farmer's Cinematheque and Climb". Cyclic Defrost. Archived from the original on 10 October 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ a b Schaefer, Max (September 2005). "Chris Abrahams – Thrown (Room40/Couchblip)". Cyclic Defrost Magazine. Archived from the original on 19 February 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  21. ^ "The Tender Hook (sound recording): motion picture soundtrack". State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  22. ^ Zuk, Tim. "Australian Television: 2008 AFI Awards". Australian Television Information Archive. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Winners & Nominees". AACTA. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  24. ^ Laing, Oliver (27 July 2010). "Chris Abrahams – Play Scar (Room40)". Cyclic Defrost Magazine. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  25. ^ Cobroft, Chris (17 April 2013). "Chris Abrahams: Memory Night". 4ZZZ Brisbane 102.1FM. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ Hobart, Mike (8 November 2010). "Chris Abrahams, Café Oto, London". Financial Times (UK). Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  27. ^ a b Reid, Chris. "Earbash – Sound/Music CD Reviews – clare cooper & chris abrahams". RealTime Arts. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  28. ^ Oxley, Melanie; Abrahams, Chris (1992), Welcome to Violet, Remote Records, retrieved 5 March 2022
  29. ^ Oxley, Melanie; Abrahams, Chris (1998), Jerusalem Bay, Remote Records, retrieved 5 March 2022
  30. ^ Abrahams, Chris (2001), Glow, Vegetable Records; distributed by Vitamin Records, retrieved 5 March 2022
  31. ^ Oxley, Melanie; Abrahams, Chris (2003), Blood oranges, Remote Records, retrieved 5 March 2022
  32. ^ Abrahams, Chris (2003), Streaming, Vegetable Records, retrieved 5 March 2022
  33. ^ a b Abrahams, Chris (2005), Thrown, Chris Abrahams, retrieved 5 March 2022
  34. ^ The Tender Hook: Motion Picture Soundtrack, SONY/ATV, 2008, retrieved 5 March 2022
  35. ^ Meggitt, Joshua (6 April 2009). "Chris Abrahams and Clare Cooper – Germ Studies for Guzheng and DX7 (Splitrec)". Cyclic Defrost Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  36. ^ Abrahams, Chris; Room40 (Firm) (2010), Play Scar, Chris Abrahams: Room40 [distributor], retrieved 5 March 2022
  37. ^ Abrahams, Chris (2013), Memory Night, Room40, retrieved 6 March 2022
  38. ^ Abrahams, Chris (2016), Fluid to the Influence, Room40, retrieved 6 March 2022
  39. ^ Abrahams, Chris (2016), Climb, retrieved 6 March 2022
  40. ^ "Chris Abrahams / Robbie Avenaim / Jim Denley: Weft". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  41. ^ "APRA History". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  42. ^ "2006 Winners – APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  43. ^ "APRA Reveals 2019 Song of the Year Shortlist". Music Feeds. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  44. ^ "ARIA Awards Best Independent Release". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  45. ^ "Events & Programs". Live Performance Australia. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  46. ^ "2009 Helpmann Awards Nominees & Winners". Helpmann Awards. Australian Entertainment Industry Association (AEIA). Retrieved 8 October 2022.