Thunder Soul (2010)

19 Jan

Thunder Soul documentary review

Schools aim to help their students reach their full potential. In American schools there are a lot of things you can participate in, whether that is sports, debating or music. Students try to excel in whatever they do, but to do that you need to have a great teacher. Conrad O. Johnson was such a teacher at Kashmere High School. He managed to make his Kashmere Stage Band one of the best school bands in the country, who even toured the world because of their skill and show.

In 1968 a lot of school bands played jazz. It looked static and all was pretty tame. What Johnson, also known as Prof., did was add funk to the mix and had his students move their instruments and even dance. It blew the competition away. When you listen to their recording you wouldn’t guess that this is a school band, it just sounds amazing:

As students graduated the band slowly disappeared. The students are now all in their fifties and they decided to reunite after 35 years to play together again. Some of them not having touched an instrument since they were in school. Their aim is to pay tribute to their teacher, who is 92, and thank him for everything he has thought them.

The movie manages to show why this band was so succesfull, how some of the members are doing now and the impact they have had on other music as well as artists like DJ Shadow sampled their records. The ending of this documentary is bittersweet and adds a lot of emotion to this movie, just like the Cashmere Stage Band put their soul into their music. It’s inspiring to see how one man managed to motivate his students to reach such high levels of success. A documentary worth seeing.

Score: 8



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