Pianist/keyboardist/composer Adam Berensonacross more than twenty recordingsoffers incontrovertible evidence that talent surpasses an affinity for category. He is equally at home with jazz, electronica, blues, or a string quartet. On his previous , fully-acoustic album, Stringent and Sempiternal (Dream Works, 2019) Berenson went in an unusual direction (for him), covering works of Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, and Pat Metheny. His new solo box set Every Beginning Is A Sequel is an ambitious collection of electronic music and a remarkably diverse collection of mostly original compositions and sounds.
Berenson spent the summer of 2019 sequestered in a recording studio, with a Korg Triton Extreme, Roland SH101 synthesizer, Yamaha SK20 Symphonic Ensemble, a Prophet Rev2 analog synthesizer, and a Fender Rhodes. Across eighty-three pieces clocking in at over seven hours of recorded music, Berenson required multiple takes on only two tracks.
Carla Bley's "Jesus Maria" and "Dreams So Real," "Mevlevia," by jazz guitarist Mick Goodrick, Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and Mozart's "Adagio for Glass Harmonica" are the covers in this prodigious collection of unambiguously varied music.
The substantial presence of electronic instruments dictates neither the design or texture of this compilation. Berenson does give us an assortment of cathodic pieces such as "A White Spectrum," and "Noise Pollution" but also noise and melody hybrids: "Amor Fati," "Reality Is Always Multiple," and "The Mirror Stage," straddle soundscapes. Mechanized compositions are the exception rather than the rule. Every Beginning Is A Sequel gives listeners trance-like orchestrations like "Dreaming Philosophy," "Denude Oneself Before the Ghosts," and "The Logic of Poetics," the more ambient "Don't Ever Leave Me" and the percussive pieces "Mind Control," and "The Constitution of the Id." It's safe to say the Berenson's reading of the often-recorded "Lonely Woman" is unlike any other version. It is jazz, but it's otherworldly jazz. His take on "Giant Steps" is closer to the original but enhanced with ingenious configurations that push the piece to the breaking point.
In a different vein, we hear Berenson's affinity for alternative music: funk flavors "Strange Dramaturgy," heavy metal influences "The Problem of Evil," a touch of early Pink Floyd can be heard in "The Thing Outside of Itself," and Berenson seems to channel Rick Wakeman on "Queen Isabella the Catholic." There are moments of cinematic beauty such as the stunning "This Doesn't Communicate Anything," the gentle take on Bley's "Dreams So Real," and the celestial interpretation on Mozart's "Adagio for Glass Harmonica."
Every Beginning Is A Sequel is a document of self-discovery, plangent, diffusive or rhapsodic. This collection is the confluence of Berenson's influencespieces deeply informed but not overtly predisposed by his mentoring from Paul Bley or his penchant for the work of Frank Zappa, Beethoven and John Lennon. This immense collection is richly inventive, moving effortlessly from one probing piece to the next, dynamic and alive where electronic/experimental music often falls short..
Volume One-Part One: Virtual Duet; Overmorrow; Pars pro toto; Dreaming Philosophy; Aphanasis; Anthropocene; Strange Dramaturgy; Jesus Maria; 1215 CE; Transcendental Empiricism; Time Crystals; Amor Fati; The Poetics of the Prosaic; Argot; On Friendship; The Liberating Embrace of Death (Part One).
Volume One-Part Two: Dreams So Real; A Spider God; The Pull of the Past; Reality Is Always Multiple; Song of Roland; Don’t Ever Leave Me; Mind Control; Patterns In A Tunnel; The Digital Big Other; Our Mutual Acquaintance; The Problem of Evil; The Thing Outside of Itself; An Ancient Lament; Metathesis; Enjoy Guilt.
Volume One-Part Three: Strange Bright Signals; The Liberating Embrace of Death (Part Two); Denude Oneself Before the Ghosts; Interpretosis; Vulgar Soul; The Clementinum; A White Spectrum; A System of Suffering; Lines of Flight; Afternoon of Remembrance.
Volume Two-Part One: Queen Isabella the Catholic; The Constitution of the Id; Nausea of Ambition; Humans of New York; The Logic of Poetics; Noise Pollution; Chamber Tomb; Mevlevia; The Lights Were Shining; Out of Joint; A Precious Sort of Necromancy; The Liberating Embrace of Death (Part Three); Alone With The Pain; Helen of Troy; Xibalba.
Volume Two-Part Two: Psych Ward; A Corner of the Attic; Listen to the Listener; Blues for Gille Deleuze; Lonely Woman; The Mirror Stage; Unfinished Reality; One Consolation; Giant Steps; It Hardly Seems to Matter; The Domination of Identity; Another Way To Be Alive; A Mental Lapse; The Scene Changes; Negative Free Will; Why Didn’t They Ask Edmund?
Volume Two-Part Three: This Doesn’t Communicate Anything; Muons; Alarm Bells; Actants; Secrets at Twilight; Motion Painting In Black; Lack Itself is Lacking; Home Invasion Thriller; Creating Plans; The Mysterious Forest is just off of Johnson Highway; Adagio for Glass Harmonica.
Adam Berenson: Korg Triton Extreme, Roland SH101 synthesizer, Prophet Rev2 analog synthesizer, Yamaha SK20 Symphonic Ensemble, Fender Rhodes.
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