Sunny’s time now
“Sunny Murray, the first drummer to play the theory of relativity.”
The documentary feature Sunny’s time now explores the life and work of the avant-garde drummer Sunny Murray, one of the most influential figures of the Free Jazz revolution. Through a series of interviews with key time witnesses as well as historic and contemporary concert footage, it reassesses the relationship between the libertarian music movement and the political events of the 1960s whose social claims it so intimately reflected. It also recounts how the most radical forms of musical expression were excluded from all major production and distribution networks as the libertarian ideal went out of fashion.
Beyond its historical approach, the film follows Sunny Murray on current gigs, showing his daily struggle to perpetuate a musical genre which is still widely ignored by the general public. In doing so, Sunny’s time now also dwells on the near-clandestine community of aficionados who continue to worship the gods of their musical coming of age and have thus permitted free improvisational music to live on.
LUX/FR 2008, 108’, English/French, HD video, Dolby SRD,
German, French & English subtitles
Director Antoine Prum
Assistant Director Boris Kremer
Director of photography Camille Cottagnoud
Camera Carlo Thiel
Sound Engineer Gilles Laurent, Alex Davidson
Edit Theo Thiesmeier, Antoine Prum
Sound design Maïkôl Seminatore
Executive Producer Paul Thiltges
Production PTD Luxembourg
Co-Production La Bascule France
The Wire, January 2010
A poem to the art of jazz as eternal rehearsal, Prum’s film proceeds by association and without much in the way of narrative. To gain a sense of Sunny Murray’s eastward progress, from a rural childhood to Philadelphia and New York City and post-évènements Paris, one needs to see Dan Warburton’s extended interview with the drummer on the special feature disc. It also includes performance footage (by Théo Robichet) from Algiers in 1969, film that suggests a faintly uneasy coming together of Franz Fanon-inspired post-colonialism and the libertarian message of the New Thing; an interview with the late Daniel Caux, founder of the Shandar label that put out important sessions by self-exiled Americans in Paris, notably Murray’s sometime employer Cecil Taylor; and an interview with Robert Wyatt that attempts to locate Murray’s stylistic influence.
paristransatlantic.com, Yule 200
By rights, I shouldn’t be reviewing this double DVD at all, as I was involved in it myself (though my activities as “music consultant” – sounds awfully important, that – consisted merely of sitting down for an hour and half’s chat with drummer Sunny Murray in the Plug In Studios near his flat in the XIIIème arrondissement of Paris), but it’s such an outstanding piece of work I just can’t resist. Luxembourg-based filmmaker Antoine Prum has produced an essential documentary, not only for anyone interested in Murray, the man and the musician, or in free jazz, but in music, full stop.
Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches, February 2010
Where are they now, the still-living architects of free jazz? For one, they’re in Sunny’s time now [sic], a 2008 documentary about Sunny Murray that has just reached me on DVD. The descriptor “sprawling” was invented for films like this: It’s all over the place. Sometimes rambling, sometimes pointed, but for anyone who’s into this stuff, it’s riveting, mainly because of the cast.