We need you to get involved! FIRE MUSIC, a documentary that tells the criminally ignored true history of the Free Jazz revolution, has been fully researched and has been shooting for over 4 years. Over 300 hours of footage has already been shot.

“Free Jazz is liberation, is the excitement of the new and now,” says Thurston Moore, executive producer of FIRE MUSIC. “It is with respect, passion and knowledge that Tom Surgal captures the significance of it. His work, like its subject, shines for the collective call of beauty and unity.”

FIRE MUSIC, directed by Tom Surgal and produced by Dan Braun with executive producers Thurston Moore and Nels Cline, reveals the story behind the irrepressible art form that has inspired generations of fans the world over.

Free Jazz is one of the original outsider art forms. Spearheaded by legendary mavericks like John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, it is the cultural precursor to all the seminal 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. Free Jazz broke all the rules, challenging the very notion of music by jettisoning conventional melodic structure and traditional timekeeping in favor of collective improvisation.


Writer / director Tom Surgal 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 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 celebrated music series at various downtown New York venues, including an entire month of shows at John Zorn’s hallowed performance space The Stone.

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Up until now this project has been entirely self-financed. We have been boot-strapping, calling in favors and relying on the generosity of friends in helping to get this made. We are now at the point where we need help from YOU, the music community, to help take this important film to the next level. You can be the catalyst for getting FIRE MUSIC into a finished form that can then be submitted to film festivals and screened for distributors. The film could then be evaluated for any additional funding that we would need for the sound mix, music, photo and clip clearance rights and final output costs. We will primarily use the proceeds from this campaign to bring on a full-time editor, one of the most important creative components in the production of any documentary film. Next we will bring on researchers to dig up additional unseen footage, rare photos and other essential visual materials. Much of the archival footage is hard to find and is contained in libraries or personal collections that are not readily available on YouTube and/or may be expensive to license. Lastly, we will collaborate with visual artists and graphic designer/animators to create animated and art transitions that will enhance the film. That will help us make FIRE MUSIC as visually arresting and revolutionary as the musical movement we are trying to capture.