“Fire Music: A History of the Free Jazz Revolution” Gets Mixed Review

Source: The Arts Fuse.

Pianist Lennie Tristano experimented with free, non-chordal-based improvisation in the early ’50s, but it wasn’t until later in the decade that disruption genuinely arrived via a movement spearheaded by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, and John Coltrane. The film Fire Music: a history of the free jazz revolution covers that 10-year period, from the late ’50s to the late ’60s. The term “Free Jazz” is a broad umbrella that embraces a variety of styles. To complicate definitional matters, a second term also came into wide use in the ’60s: the “New Thing.” The lines between “Free Jazz” and the “New Thing” were fluid. Examining these diverse stylistic elements offered the documentary an opportunity to explore the diversity of the music. Unfortunately, Fire Music sticks to a single track: we don’t hear about the likes of Grachan Moncur III, Jackie McLean, Bobby Hutcherson, Andrew Hill, and others who were not closely associated with the film’s chosen interviewees. To encompass the full scope of ‘Free Jazz” these and other musicians who were pursuing new directions should have been included.