Fred Hersch (photograph by Stephanie Berger, courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz)
Readers may recall that last March I wrote about The Ballad of Fred Hersch, a documentary made by Charlotte Lagarde and Carrie Lozano in 2016, which had been released for free video streaming. I appreciated the amount of time the film devoted to My Coma Dreams, which I had regarded as Hersch’s most ambitious effort. The title referred to a medically induced coma that Hersch sustained in 2008 and his retrospective impressions after regaining consciousness.
The work itself could best be called a jazz theater piece. Hersch composed a score that was organized around a script written by Herschel Garfein, who directed what amounted to an amalgam of a monodrama for a narrator embedded in an instrumental ensemble augmenting a jazz combo with a string quartet. Following the premiere performance in New York, Hersch and Garfein took the show on tour; and it was hosted by San Francisco Performances at the end of October of 2011.
A video of the entire production was made; and, as a follow-up to the streaming of The Ballad of Fred Hersch, that video will be made available for free streaming, beginning of Friday, July 17. The URL for this video has not yet been created; but it should be sufficient to search You Tube for “My Coma Dreams” and “Fred Hersch.” As might be anticipated, this video will be best experienced with stereo audio from either headphones or speakers.
Michael Winter will present Garfein’s text, serving as both actor and singer. Hersch will play piano, and the string quartet will consist of violinists Joyce Hammann and Laura Seaton, violist Ron Lawrence, and cellist Dave Eggar. Hersch’s extended combo will include Ralph Alessi on trumpet and flugelhorn, Mike Christianson on trombone, Steven Lugerner on oboe and clarinet, Adam Kolker on flute, clarinet and tenor saxophone, John Hébert on bass, and John Hollenbeck on percussion.