The musicians of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble ain’t heavy... they’re brothers.
BROTHERS HYPNOTIC (Reuben Atlas). 80 minutes. Opens Friday (June 6). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
With both Father's Day and jazz festival season just around the corner, the timing couldn't be better for Brothers Hypnotic, a fascinating look at a unique musical and cultural legacy.
The jazz, funk, soul and (a touch of) hip-hop outfit Hypnotic Brass Ensemble consists of eight real-life brothers, all sons (from three different moms) of the legendary jazz trumpeter and African rights activist Phil Cohran. When the film begins, director Reuben Atlas finds the Chicago-born kids trying to make it in the Big Apple, playing on street corners, hawking CDs and talking about how they don't want to sell out to record companies.
That suspicion of the Man comes from growing up with their dad, who played with the greats but was eventually shut out of the biz. Will the sons follow their father's example or adapt not only to new kinds of music but new ways of marketing themselves?
There's a ton to explore: the black power movement of the 60s and 70s, non-traditional families (the boys and their other siblings grew up with two moms and their dad) and the archetypal struggle to forge one's independence. Atlas expertly interweaves archival footage, present-day interviews and clips of jams with Mos Def and Prince.
And there's unexpected emotional resonance near the end when the boys ask their dad to collaborate on a track called, appropriately enough, Black Boy.