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Adam Berenson/Daoud Shaw: Fatidic Dreams

Karl Ackermann By

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Fatidic Dreams brings together two musician whose influences and experiences are as diverse a set of conditions as one could imagine. Philadelphia-area pianist/keyboardist/electronic composer Adam Berenson was a student of Paul Bley at the New England Conservatory of Music, and his musical inspirations run from Beethoven to Zappa. A playwright and teacher, Berenson has recorded across multiple genres, occasionally in the same collection as with his excellent two-disc Lumen (Dream Play, 2014). Percussionist Daoud Shaw's credits include serving as the drummer for The Saturday Night Live Band 1975-1977 (aka Dahaud Shaar), Van Morrison's It's Too Late to Stop Now... (Warner Bros., 1987), the Jerry Garcia Band (1980-1981), and as accompanist to Etta James. Shaw passed away early in 2018.

The duo has worked together through more than a dozen of the pianist's recordings, but with Shaw in an engineering capacity. Here he assists in that capacity as well, while manning drums and other percussion. "Fatidic" is a Latin word that means "prophetic" and with dreams as a window to prophesy, the tracks are designated "Dream 1" through "Dream 13." Berenson's previous duo album Penumbra (Dream Play Records, 2017), with bassist Scott Barnum is—in Berenson's view—something of a prequel to Fatidic Dreams.

"Dream 1," the longest track, is classically informed with the synthesizer filling the orchestration that supports the piano; similar influences materialize in "Dream 6" but with a bit more edge. More dark and ominous, "Dream 2" is also more heavily reliant on effects while being no less musical. The beautiful—and all-acoustic—"Dream 3," the quirky baroque-ness of "Dream 4" and spacy electronics of "Dream 5" are collectively characteristic of the broad stylistic palette employed by Berenson.

Fatidic Dreams does what Berenson likes to do and does so well. As a composer, his configurations incorporate jazz, electronica, noise and chamber music, individually or collectively; all the elements produce a living hybrid sound reflecting a single vision. As he closes out the album, he gives much of "Dream 13" to Shaw's percussive effects, a fitting conclusion to a long-time professional partnership and a farewell. Fatidic Dreams is intelligent and thoughtful music, consistently rewarding and adventurous; it needs to be heard to appreciate its many sublime musical ideas.

Track Listing: Dream 1; Dream 2; Dream 3; Dream 4; Dream 5; Dream 6; Dream 7; Dream 8; Dream 9; Dream 10; Dream 11; Dream 12; Dream 13.

Personnel: Adam Berenson: piano, synthesizers; Daoud Shaw: drums, percussion.

Title: Fatidic Dreams | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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