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Fire Music Documentary to See National Release

Tom Surgal's film on the history of avant-garde jazz will premiere in New York and L.A. in September

Sun Ra in December 1968, as seen in Tom Surgal's Fire Music
Sun Ra in December 1968, as seen in Tom Surgal’s Fire Music (photo: Baron Wolman)

Fire Music, Tom Surgal’s 2018 documentary about the jazz avant-garde, is finally receiving a wide release. The film will have its theatrical premiere at New York’s Film Forum on September 10, with a Los Angeles premiere following at Laemmle Glendale on September 17. A national release will follow.

Eleven years in the making, Fire Music traces the origins and history of the free-jazz movement. Featuring archival footage of such pioneers as Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra (in a riotous German TV performance that literally gets things off to a smashing start), Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and others, the film clearly demonstrates the lines that link avant-garde jazz to earlier styles like swing and bebop. Critic Gary Giddins, as well as a number of important players in the movement—several of whom, such as Prince Lasha, Roswell Rudd, and Sonny Simmons, have since passed away—provide further insights. “I only half-mockingly refer to this project as the parts that were left out of Ken Burns’ [2001 PBS documentary series] Jazz,” Surgal said about the film in a 2018 interview with JazzTimes.

Fire Music was an official selection of the 2018 New York Film Festival, where it received its world premiere.

Visit Fire Music’s official website for more information.