The Subversive History of Free Jazz Steps into The Spotlight in a Trailer for New ‘Fire Music’ Documentary

The free jazz chronicle, Fire Music, hits theaters and on-demand on Friday, September 10th.

As boundless and beyond definition as the broader category of jazz has become over the last century, “free jazz” (or “spiritual jazz,” as its become more recently known,) abides by even fewer of the genre’s already few rules. And now, a documentary will trace the subversive history of jazz’s avant garde movement from its origins point(s) to its modern day manifestations. Aptly titled, Fire Music, the new doc is a chronicle of the pioneers and breakthrough moments of a presitigious musical subculture with an incomparable vanguard of jazz superheros.

Our first glimpse at Fire Music arrives in a trailer for the film, which is out later this week. The preview explores the main players in a transformational era of a genre reeling from the death of a giant in Charlie Parker, yet ready to move forward in manner that at least bothered — and at most enraged — many of Parker’s contemporaries. Directed by filmmaker Tom Surgal, Fire Music, examines free jazz as both disrupter and disciple of its predecessors, positioning Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and dozens of others at the forefront. The film features grips of archival footage along with commentary from critic Gary Giddins and pivotal musicians from the era.

Watch the trailer for Fire Music below and catch it in select theaters or on-demand this Friday, September 10th. Head over to the film’s dedicated site for a list of screens showing the film in the weeks ahead. 


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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