The documentary's official title is Jamie Foxx Presents Thunder Soul, but Foxx doesn't appear in the film.
Ruling In The Realm of Student Musicians
Under the tutelage of Prof Johnson, they strayed away from the prevalent big band sound and introduced popular tunes -- funk -- into their repertoire, along with original pieces composed for them by Prof. Their sound was unique. Additionally, they choreographed their performances with smooth moves that left audiences in awe. Everywhere they performed -- including Texas-funded tours through Europe and to Japan -- they attracted a huge and loyal following. They even recorded and released a record, Texas Thunder Soul, which is now, in re-release, a huge hit and collector's item.
The successes of Kashmere High School Band inpsired other student groups - ranging from basketball to debate - to excell and boosted pride throughout the entire community.
Band members were treated like rock stars, but Prof kept a tight reign on them, demanding discipline and their continued hard work and achievement - not only in music, but in other aspects of their lives, as well. One former student comments that Prof taught him not only how to play music, but how to be a man. Needless to say, all of the young band members adored the teacher who inspired them to learn and built their self confidence by insisting that they achieve.
As Time Goes By
Fast forward to 2008. Former Kashmere band members, now in their 50s, reassemble to honor Prof, now 92, with a concert of the music they played way back when. Many band members hadn't handled their instruments since graduation, but they're determined to get back into the swing - or funk. It ain't easy. One horn player confides with good humor that she nearly passed out on her first blow. But she and her peers persist, and under a baton wielded by a former student who's now a musician, and with prayers lead by another who's now a preacher, the ensemble plays a brilliant, heartfelt concert for Prof.
Filmmaker Mark Landsman embraces his cast with warmth and captures their humor. His use of archival photos, news footage and assorted vintage movie clips sets historical context, but it's current on camera interviews with Prof and testimonials from his players mixed with footage of the reassembled band in rehearsal and performance, that's so moving, so joyful and inspiring, such a pleaser for crowds of all ages, for people in all seasons of life. Thunder Soul may play prelude to a narrative feature - a la Mr. Holland's Opus, say - but it's questionable whether another film could deliver the authentic emotional impact of this original.
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- Title: Thunder Soul
- Director: Mark Landsman
- US Theatrical Release Date: September 23, 2011 (limited)
- Running Time: 83 mins.
- MPAA Rating: PG for brief language and momentary historical smoking
- Parental Guidance: Advisory for Parental Guidance for content
- Location: Houston, Texas
- Language: English
- Production Country: USA
- Production Company: Snoot Entertainment
- Distribution Company: Roadside Attractions
- Official Website