Nu Mu Festival at 118 Elliot highlights new sounds, free jazz | arts and culture
BRATTLEBORO — The Nu Mu Festival, a new series of events from 118 Elliot, is in full swing — with the Vermont premiere of a film about free jazz this weekend.
The festival, which lasts the month of August, features more than 20 events, including live music and opportunities for community improvisation with local and visiting musicians. The name comes from the beginning of the words “new music”.
This weekend’s events, in addition to live music, also include a Sunday screening of “Fire Music,” which 118 Elliot’s John Loggia co-produced. The film, which The New York Times called “a passionate 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 recognized today as central to the evolution of jazz as America’s most innovative art form,” reads the film’s description.
“Music, art and film are all part of a philosophy of experimentation and expressionism that defines the Nu Mu Festival,” Loggia said. “Almost all of the musicians are performers of the music featured in the film.”
For “Fire Music”, Loggia acted as a consultant to the director, Tom Surgal, whom he has known since freshman year.
“The subject of the film is the music that Tom and I discovered when we were in high school,” Loggia said. “It was New York City in the 70s. No one thought it strange that 16-year-olds were hanging out in clubs.
Paul Austerlitz, one of the star musicians, went to high school with Loggia, and they learned free jazz together. “Our families would let us go out pretty much as we pleased and we would go to jazz clubs,” Loggia recalls.
As for this weekend’s live music, Friday at 7 p.m. is “Saxophones with Vision,” with Jon Irabagon and Jeff Lederer, and Saturday at the same time, it’s “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 all take place at 118 Elliot, which is located at 118 Elliot St.
“Nu Mu is a festival of friends,” Loggia said. “It includes local and national musicians and will provide many musicians with the opportunity to play together for the first time.”
Upcoming events include a “community improv” with local musician Anna Patton. For a complete list of Nu Mu Festival shows, visit 118elliot.com/event/nu-mu-festival.
Also tied to the festival, “Visions of a Sound,” a visual art exhibit by Mary LaRose and Sara Wildavsky, will be on view at 118 Elliot through August 28. Gallery hours are 4-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.