Sun Ra image.jpg

Sun Ra, shown in this 1973 publicity photo from Impulse ABC Dunhill, is among the musicians featured in the new film "Fire Music," premiering in Vermont at 118 Elliot this weekend.

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BRATTLEBORO — Nu Mu Festival, a new event series by 118 Elliot, is in full swing — with the Vermont premiere of a film on free jazz this weekend.

The festival, which lasts the month of August, features more than 20 events, including live music and community improvisation opportunities with visiting and local musicians. The name comes from the beginning of the words “new music.”

This weekend’s events, in addition to the live music, also include a screening Sunday of “Fire Music,” which John Loggia of 118 Elliot co-produced. The film, which The New York Times called, “an impassioned case for free jazz,” explores the free jazz movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Although it was “much maligned in some jazz circles, its pioneers ... are today acknowledged as central to the evolution of jazz as America’s most innovative art form,” a film description reads.

“The music, the art and the film are all part of an ethos of experimentation and expressionism that define the Nu Mu Festival,” Loggia said. “Almost all of the musicians are interpreters of the music that is featured in the film.”

For “Fire Music,” Loggia acted as a consultant to the director, Tom Surgal — whom he has known since the first grade.

“The film’s subject is the music that Tom and I discovered when we were in high school,” Loggia said. “This was New York City in the ’70s. No one thought it odd that 16-year-old kids were hanging out at clubs.”

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Paul Austerlitz, one of the featured musicians, went to high school with Loggia, and they learned about free jazz together. “Our families let us go out pretty much as we pleased, and we went to jazz clubs,” Loggia recalls.

As for this weekend’s live music, at 7 p.m. Friday is “Saxophones with Vision,” with Jon Irabagon and Jeff Lederer, and on Saturday at the same time is “Encounters” with Paul Austerlitz, Erik Plaks, Aron Namenwirth, Ben James, Zach Swanson and more. There are two events on Sunday: “Sunday Sounds” with Paul Austerlitz at 1 p.m., and the screening of “Fire Music” at 6 p.m. These events are all at 118 Elliot, which is at 118 Elliot St.

“Nu Mu is a festival of friends,” Loggia has said. “It includes both local and nationally recognized musicians and will provide an opportunity for many musicians to play together for the first time.”

Among upcoming events is a “community improvisation” with local musician Anna Patton. For a full list of shows in the Nu Mu Festival, visit

Also connected to the festival is “Visions of a Sound,” an exhibit of visual art by Mary LaRose and Sara Wildavsky, on view at 118 Elliot through Aug. 28. Gallery hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.