Fred Hersch to Release “My Coma Dreams” DVD

Jazz/theater piece based on pianist’s real-life experiences

Fred Hersch  image 0

Fred Hersch

My Coma Dreams, a multimedia presentation based on the real-life experiences of jazz pianist/composer Fred Hersch, who has HIV/AIDS, will be released on DVD Nov. 25 via palmetto Records. The jazz/theater piece, filmed live at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, brings together the music of Hersch and a script by writer/director Herschel Garfein. The story is described in a press release as follows:

“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 stars singer/actor Michael Winther with Fred Hersch and Ensemble, and is based on eight dreams remembered by Hersch when he emerged from his two-month coma in 2008. The presentation features animation by Sarah Wickliffe and computer imagery generated by Eamonn Farrell. The 11-piece instrumental ensemble includes such jazz musicians 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 DVD will be released on Nov. 25 in honor of World AIDS Day, which is on Dec. 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. For more information, visit and