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Kickstart This: Feature Documentary on the Definitive History of the Free Jazz Revolution

Kickstart This: Feature Documentary on the Definitive History of the Free Jazz Revolution

Here’s a crowdfunding campaign worth taking a look at, and contributing to…

Oddly enough, I was very recently reading some literature on the “Free Jazz revolution,” so this immediately got my attention when it landed in my email inbox. In short, the revolution began in the mid-1950s as an artistic and socio-political response to the economic and racial climate of the period. It gave individual artists an escape from the restrictive rules of musical artistry, and emphasized individual expression. A handful of major artists opened a doors to what would become an unwavering personalization of musical performances, incorporating new techniques, as collectives were formed in marginalized areas that would support artistic experimentation as well as education within each community.

As you’d expect, the movement was looked down upon by most critics and jazz enthusiasts – at least, initially. But “Free Jazz” would eventually prove to become of profound influence on subsequent developments in jazz and rock, affecting the musical landscape.

The below project aims to tell what the filmmakers say will be the definitive history of the Free Jazz revolution, in a documentary titled “Fire Music.” Their goal is to raise $37,500 to complete the film, which is currently already in production.

Full details via press release follow:

FIRE MUSIC is a feature length documentary currently in production, which tells the definitive history of the Free Jazz revolution. Directed by Tom Surgal, produced by Dan Braun, and executive produced by Thurston Moore and Nels Cline, the film seeks to tell the story of an irrepressible art form that has inspired generations of fans the world over.

FIRE MUSIC will launch a KICKSTARTER Campaign today to complete the documentary and bring the project to film festivals and theaters for fans across the globe to enjoy.

Commenting on the project, Executive Producer Thurston Moore stated: “Free Jazz is liberation, is the excitement of the new and now….. It is with respect, passion and knowledge that Tom Surgal captures the significance of this self proclaimed “Fire Music.” His work, like its subject, shines for the collective call of beauty and unity.”

FIRE MUSIC seeks to preserve this vital history and the music of a criminally ignored art form that has gone cinematically undocumented for far too long.

Free Jazz is one of the original outsider art forms that broke all the rules. Spearheaded by legendary mavericks like John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, it is the cultural precursor to all the other musical protest scenes that followed, such as Punk, Hardcore and Hip Hop. It gave voice to a disenfranchised generation galvanized by the burgeoning civil rights and anti-war movements.

In the late 1950s, when the Abstract Expressionists took the art world by storm and The Beats forever changed the face of literature, a new radical form of Jazz erupted from New York’s Lower East Side. This new music was a far cry from the toe-tapping, post Bebop sound of the Jazz mainstream popular in the day. This was an angry form of Jazz that mirrored the more turbulent times in which it was being played.

The coming together of these like-minded artists, iconic figures such as Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy and Pharoah Sanders, was a historic occasion. Like the Dadaists, the Lost Generation and the Italian Neo-Realists before them, the early progenitors of the Free Jazz scene were initially met with skepticism and outright disdain. They were accused of being anti-Jazz and the music they played was dismissed as being pure noise. Undeterred by their critics, they would soldier on in relative obscurity and in the process create one of the most influential bodies of work of the contemporary age.

Interviews, archival footage, and live performances combine to depict the sights and sounds of some of the most influential artists of the period including:

Sam Rivers, Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake, John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, Noah Howard, Dave Burrell, Marshall Allen, Prince Lasha, Sonny Simmons, Bobby Bradford, Sirone, Rashied Ali, Gato Barbieri, Evan Parker, Gunter Hampel, Han Bennink, Peter Brotzmann, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton, Keith Rowe, Gunter Baby Sommer, Trevor Watts,Tristan Honsinger, Joseph Jarman, and renowned Jazz historian and six time Grammy winner Gary Giddins. Live, never before seen concert footage includes performances by: Peter Brotzman, Han Bennink, Gunter Baby Sommer, Urlich Gumpert, Dave Burrell, Paul Lytton, Ken Vandemark, Evan Parker, Gunter Hampel and Marshell Allen.FIRE MUSIC is led by writer/ director Tom Surgal who is known for directing a series of groundbreaking music videos for leading alternative bands like Sonic Youth, Pavement and the Blues Explosion. Tom was a teenage protégé of Brian DePalma and has worked in a wide range of film production jobs, including production design, casting and writing. Tom is also a working musician who performs regularly with Nels Cline (Wilco), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Jim O’Rourke and Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges) and is co-leader of the improvisational ensemble White Out. He is also a curator who has programmed a number of celebrated music series at various downtown New York venues, including an entire month of shows at John Zorn’s hallowed performance space The Stone.

Tom is also recognized as a leading authority on Avant-garde Jazz and boasts one the world’s largest collections of Free Jazz recordings.

Dan Braun, co-president of one of the top documentary production and sales companies, Submarine Entertainment, produces the project. Dan recently produced Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and executive produced the award-winning documentary “Kill Your Idols” and the No Wave documentary “Blank City. Dan is also an Executive Producer on the recently released base-jumping documentary “Sunshine Superman.”

Dan’s company, Submarine Entertainment has represented and sold the Oscar winning documentaries “Searching for Sugar Man,” “20 Ft from Stardom,” “Man on Wire” and “The Cove.” Other films in the companies portfolio include “NAS Time is Illmatic,” “Muscle Shoals,” “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” “Citizenfour,” “Keep on Keepin On,” “The Great Invisible,” “Blackfish,” “Cutie and the Boxer,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Bill Cunningham NY,” “Tiny Furniture,” “Queen of Versailles,” “Chasing Ice,” “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” “Super Size Me” and many more.

Executive producers are musicians Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Nels Cline (Wilco). ranked respectively #99 and # 82 on Rolling Stone’ s rating of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”

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