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Acclaimed Pianist Fred Hersch Releases DVD of Jazz and Theater Piece, "My Coma Dreams"
(Published: December 01, 2014)

Filmed Live at Columbia University's Miller Theatre Starring Actor/Singer Michael Winther with
Fred Hersch & Ensemble

Conceived, Written, & Directed by Herschel Garfein

Released in Honor of World AIDS Day;
Proceeds to Benefit Treatment Action Group

A renowned jazz musician with HIV/AIDS, in near-fatal septic shock, is rushed by his partner to Manhattan's St. Vincent's Hospital where doctors place him in a medically induced coma. Over the next two months, he enters a highly personal dream world, full of vivid experiences of confinement and release, of surreal comedy and ineffable beauty. Meanwhile, his partner fights through panic and despair to try to reach out to him across the gulf of consciousness, while negotiating the real-world complexities of his medical care.

My Coma Dreams is jazz/theater, bringing together original music by six-time Grammy-nominated composer Fred 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), starring singer/actor Michael Winther, "a theater singer of unusual refinement" with "a voice that traverses genres" (New York Times) accompanied by an 11-piece ensemble "swinging like mad." (All About Jazz). It is based on eight dreams remembered by Hersch when he emerged from a two-month coma in 2008.

Disturbing, lovely... [with] deeply funny moments throughout ... Mr. Hersch is a pianist and composer of rare and wide-ranging gifts...The separate experiences of patient and loved one form one duality wrapped into Mr. Winther's double roles, which he delineates with grace...
-Larry Blumenthal, Wall Street Journal

I found the piece unshakable-serious, profoundly moving, and sometimes disturbing, a work of dream art as elegant as Stravinsky's "Petit Concert" and as memorable as "Yesterday."
-David Hajdu, New Republic

The multimedia presentation features animation by Sarah Wickliffe and computer imagery generated by Eamonn Farrell. The 11-piece instrumental ensemble 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. Filmed with multiple cameras by videographer Ross Karre with sound design and recording by Jody Elff.

The DVD will be released on November 25, 2014, on the Palmetto label in honor of World AIDS Day on December 1. Proceeds will benefit Treatment Action Group, an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS.

More Information: http://treatmentactiongroup.givezooks.com/events/my-coma-dreams

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