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"Four hands on one piano" from the duo of pianist Chris Abrahams (The Necks) and Magda Mayas, both improvising in Berlin at the Vivaldi Saal performance space using their piano, harpsichord, and harmonium.

Abrahams, Chris and Magda Mayas

Abrahams, Chris and Magda Mayas: Gardener (Relative Pitch)
Label: Relative Pitch    
Released in: USA    

The Musicians

Chris Abrahams - piano, harpsichord, harmonium
Chris Abrahams was born in Oamaru, New Zealand but grew up in Sydney, Australia. He became very active in the Sydney jazz scene in the early eighties playing with modern jazz groups including Mark Simmonds' Freeboppers and The Keys Music Orchestra. With bassist Lloyd Swanton he formed the sixties modern jazz-influenced The Benders in 1982.

Abrahams and Swanton joined by drummer Tony Buck began rehearsing together in 1986, forming the hugely popular cult band, 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."

Apart from extensive recording (18+ albums) and touring with The Necks, Abrahams released the solo piano albums Piano (1984), Walk (1986), Glow (2001), Streaming (2003) and Thrown (2004). He has collaborated, in both recording and performance, with many contemporary improvising musicians including Burkhard Beins, Mike Cooper and Anthony Pateras. He performs regularly in the improvising music scenes in Australia and Europe.

Magda Mayas - piano, harpsichord, harmonium
Based in Berlin, Germany, Mayas studied jazz and improvisation at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Universität der Künste Berlin in 2001 under Misha Mengelberg, and completed a diploma at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler under Georg Gräwe in 2005.*

Developing a vocabulary utilizing both the inside as well as the exterior parts of the piano, using preparations and objects, she explores textural, linear and fast moving sound collage.

Alongside the piano, Mayas has recently been performing on a Clavinet/Pianet, an electric piano from the '60s with strings and metal chimes, where she engages with noise and more visceral sound material, equally extending the instrumental sound palette using extended techniques and devices.

Mayas has performed and toured in Europe, the USA, Australia and Lebanon, and has collaborated with many leading figures in improvisation such as John Butcher, Peter Evans, Annette Krebs, Phil Niblock, Andrea Neumann, Axel Dörner, Thomas Lehn and Tristan Honsinger.

About This Session

A brief Q&A with Chris Abrahams

How did the session come about?

I had only played with Magda once before this-four hands on one piano. It was at a concert at a place in Berlin called Alt Stralau. She played a set in one group and I played one in another, and at the end of the evening we all played together. However, I had seen her perform many times, both solo and with other people: chiefly with Morton Olsen and Koen Nutters, and of course with Tony Buck. I am always struck by her strong sense of form, the syntax she employs.

There is a performance space in Berlin called Vivaldi Saal, and in it are all sorts of keyboards. Over the years Magda had been to a few shows that I was involved with-in fact I performed at a festival she organized. So we had some idea about what might happen. We didn't prepare to any great extent beforehand. I'm chiefly an improviser, so I tend to prefer things that way.

What does the title Gardener refer to?

I think the album name is one of those intuitive things-it sounded right. It was actually Magda who came up with the title. With most of the names of records I have been involved with, they can mean many things. What I like about the name Gardener is its lack of pretension. I also find it humorous.


A brief Q&A with Magda Mayas

What can you share with me about your experience improvising with Chris?

The recording is one of the first times we played together, definitely the first time as a duo. Even though we have quite different approaches-me spending a lot of time inside the instrument, and Chris on the keyboard-I feel we relate to each other very well. Chris has a very unique style, that's very pure and physical and you recognize it immediately. Playing with Chris feels very easy.

How did the session come about?

It was quite spontaneous. The room we played and recorded in is a rehearsal space in Berlin equipped with two grand pianos, a harpsichord and a harmonium. We didn't have any plans about the music we were going to record. It felt very natural to play. We basically spent the whole day there and tried out different combinations using those instruments.

What does the title Gardener refer to?

I guess I associate Gardener or gardening with a calm, patient, beautiful activity. Something to do with nature and being in nature that makes me think of our music.

Was this your first recording together, and will you do gigs together as a duo?

Yes, that was the first recording we made, and I imagine we will be recording again. We did play a as duo concert in Berlin already, me on clavinet, and Chris on DX7. Yes, definitely some gigs in Berlin, as Chris is spending a lot of time there. And definitely making more plans for concerts in the near future.

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Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Piano & Keyboards
Duo Recordings

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Price: $11.16
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 616892128243

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR 1011
Squidco Product Code: 17522

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded by Chris Abrahams and Magda Mayas in 2009.


Chris Abrahams-piano, harpischord, harmonium

Magda Mayas-piano, harpischord, harmonium

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Track Listing:

1. Song of the pylons 1:17

2. The changes wrought by the recurring use of tools 15:12

3. Lichens 5:04

4. Surroundings 7:55

5. Ash canopy 9:58

6. Remnant 3:49