Jazz Heavyweight Fred Hersch Recounts Harrowing Medical Ordeal in New DVD 'My Coma Dreams'

By Ian Holubiak on Dec 04, 2014 09:54 AM EST

For renowned jazz pianist Fred Hersch, a medical ordeal has become the topic of his new DVD My Coma Dreams, a single actor-driven theater piece accompanied in large part by instrumental music. The disc comes out Monday, Dec. 8, in recognition of World AIDS Day.

A most unfortunate medical peril, the 90-minute narrative covers the eight dreams Hersch recalled after regaining consciousness from a coma in 2008. And after he was rehabilitated, he conveyed the surreal dreamscape to his friend, librettist and composer Herschel Garfein.

If you were not aware, back in June 2008 Hersch fell ill and was confined to his bath tub, where he was rushed to the hospital immediately.

Once he reached St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, he was in septic shock. The doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and organ failure, and he was induced into a coma for eight weeks.

Nine months later he had made a full recovery, and by January was playing at the Village Vanguard — quite the resilient composer.

Garfein interviewed Hersch and his partner Morgan for the new DVD. The eight dreams are, according to the Boston Globe, given different musical treaments, "sometimes as accompaniment to the spoken narrative, sometimes as orchestral breaks or solos by Hersch and his 11-piece ensemble."

There is even a little segment about Thelonious Monk.

Thankfully, the pianist has made a full recovery and, hopefully, this traumatic experience can be left behind him.

For now, though, we have a small segment of Hersch below:

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TagsFred Hersch, My Coma Dreams, The Boston Globe, Herschel Garfein, The Village Vanguard

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