Behind the Music

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Behind the Music

By Rachel Henderson and Janelle Thomas

Brass horns and the clash of melody and hip-hop beats set the stage as the jazz and funk-infused film Brothers Hypnotic plays the audience into another world.

The film, which screened on April 8 as part of the Little Theatre's One Take: Stories Through the Lens documentary series, is directed by first-time director Rueben Atlas. It gives a short chronicle of the triumphs and hardships of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, an eight-member band composed not only of musicians, but brothers. In this 90-minute documentary, Atlas captures the brothers’ strong bond, as well as the relationship they have with their ever-influencing father.

These sons of legendary musician Phil Cohran unite through the power of music along with the omnipresent reminder from their father that their true and lasting purpose is to inspire other people.

This comes easy for the South Side Chicago-based group.  Atlas, able to capture the brothers’ past and poverty-entrenched childhood, reveals that these struggles often teach the brothers how to deal with life and their road to recognition.

Growing up, the brothers were immersed in the melodies of funk, jazz, and rock, playing to the rise of the sun in their father’s early morning class. The anti-establishment truths Cohran instilled in them during that time prepared the brothers for a journey of self-love and ownership.

The most noteworthy aspect of the film is the amount of trust given to Atlas by the brothers, documenting their story while also keeping the integrity of the raw emotion surrounding their journey.

Often shown playing in the streets and occasionally live venues, the brothers refuse to conform to other people’s values, even to the extent of taking their own European tour. The tension between living out their father’s legacy and creating a legacy of their own is seamlessly spread throughout the film. 

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will be playing live in this summer’s Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 27th. Don’t miss a chance to check out this electrifying band, a group that is legend in its own right.

Rachel Henderson and Janelle Thomas both attend Roberts Wesleyan College, currently completing degrees in Communication.  Rachel is an avid experiencer of all things, explaining her love for the surrounding arts culture in Rochester. Janelle revels in reading, movie-going, and traveling.