New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
My Coma Dreams, the extraordinary jazz theater piece based on the personal experience of Grammy-nominated pianist/composer Fred Hersch, who survived a two-month medically induced coma, will be available for free streaming beginning Friday, July 17 via YouTube. This video is best experienced with headphones or on stereo speakers.
The piece brings together original music by Hersch, "singular among trailblazers of his art" (Vanity Fair), and a script by Grammy-winning writer/director Herschel Garfein, whose "themes are deeply American, and rooted in the mores of Generations X and Y" (Time Out NY). The performance features singer/actor Michael Winther, "a theater singer of unusual refinement" with "a voice that traverses genres" (NY Times)accompanied by an 11-piece ensemble "swinging like mad." (All About Jazz).
The multimedia presentation also features animation by Sarah
Wickliffe and computer imagery generated by Eamonn Farrell. The 11-piece instrumental ensemble led by Hersch includes such jazz heavyweights as drummer John Hollenbeck, bassist John Hébert, trumpeter Ralph Alessi and reed player Adam Kolker along with a string quartet featuring violinist/violist Joyce Hammann and cellist Dave Eggar. The performance was filmed with multiple cameras by videographer Ross Karre with sound design and recording by Jody Elff.
My Coma Dreams is based on eight dreams and nightmares experienced by Hersch while in a coma during the summer of 2008. Garfein shaped the dream stories into a continuous narrative that illuminates an extraordinary journey to the dividing line between life and death. Winther narrates, sings, and plays the dual roles of Fred and his partner, Scott. My Coma Dreams was originally released on DVD by Palmetto Records on November 25, 2014.
Hersch's coma experiences were also chronicled in his acclaimed 2017 memoir, "Good Things Happen Slowly," which was featured in the Sunday New York Times and on NPR's "Fresh Air," named one of 2017's Five Best Memoirs by the Washington Post and The New York Times, and acclaimed as 2018's Book on Jazz of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.
Haunting and lyrical, at times humorous and frightening, My Coma Dreams pushes the boundary of music and theater into a realm that is deeply personal and inescapably universal. The show has earned wide critical acclaim. Jesse
Hamlin of the San Francisco Chronicle calls it "a potent jazz theater piece." Dr. Judth Schlesinger in All About Jazz calls it "a searing and powerful statement about our shared humanity and the redemptive power of music and love...In a just world this is the stuff that Pulitzers are made of." Alan Young of Lucid Culture says, "...a genuinely heartwarming portrait of joie de vivre triumphing over enormous odds...literally breathtaking...powerful and compelling."
A select member of jazz's piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music's course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. He has been proclaimed "the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade" by Vanity Fair, "an elegant force of musical invention" by The L.A. Times, and "a living legend" by The New Yorker.
A fifteen-time Grammy nominee, Hersch has regularly garnered jazz's most prestigious awards and has long set the standard for expressive interpretation and inventive creativity, whether through his exquisite solo performances, as the leader of one of jazz's era-defining trios, or in eloquent dialogue with his deeply attuned duo partners. His acclaimed, award-winning 2017 memoir, "Good Things Happen Slowly" (Crown Archetype Books/Random House), compellingly reveals the story of his life in music along with a frank recounting of his struggles and triumphs as the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz musician.