As a pianist, composer, bandleader, and creator of multimedia pieces, including the critically acclaimed My Coma Dreams, Fred Hersch is “singular among the trailblazers of their art,” as the New York Times Magazine put it. After the screening, he joins fellow jazz pianist and collaborator Mike Holober to talk about his work before taking his seat at our grand piano for a live solo performance.
FILM: The Ballad of Fred Hersch
This sensitive portrait of one of today’s foremost jazz pianists reveals an artist who, after trials that would defeat most of us, continues to be “astonishingly creative, profound and enthralling” (Downbeat). With more than thirty albums and eight Grammy nominations under his belt, Hersch is internationally revered in jazz circles as a master improviser. He is a maverick in music and in life: The first jazz musician to come out as gay and HIV-positive in the early 1990s, he miraculously survived a two-month AIDS-related coma in 2008. Both exacting and full of love, the filmmakers’ unfettered cameras capture Hersch’s creative process as he does double duty as a workaday jazzman and first-time theater producer—turning life’s tragedies into transcendent art.