Music is the Message

The soundtrack to America’s civil rights movement before the mid-1960s was predominantly made up of gospel standards and spirituals, with a smattering of popular folk. But by the late 1960s, music was changing right along with the political landscape. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X parted ways in their philosophies of how … READ MORE

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

In Don’t Stop Believin’, a real-life fairy tale, a Filipino singer is plucked from YouTube to front the iconic American band Journey, and must deal with the pressures of replacing a legend while leading the band on their longest world tour in ages.

Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization Rises Again

Editor’s note: While these aren’t Independent Lens films of course, the Decline films are some of our very favorite music docs, make for perfect summertime viewing, and are finally all out together on DVD. Read on for critic Noel Murray’s exclusive take on them, and a few more of his own favorites. By Noel Murray Each of director … READ MORE

Hawaiian Music: More Than Just Hula (But Also Hula)

In tandem with the upcoming PBS premiere of Kumu Hina, we created this Spotify playlist compiling some of the greatest Hawaiian music, from Hula to slack guitar, ukulele, and beyond. And yes, we also couldn’t resist tossing in a standard at the end, while finding inspiration for some of the other choices via Hawaii Magazine, Honolulu Magazine, King’s Hawaiian, … READ MORE

A Musical Journey Through Muscle Shoals

Get in the Muscle Shoals mood with this curated list of videos and more tunes by some of the finest artists to record there. Put on your headphones to groove along, while also reading more about the music that came out of this Alabama town.

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Brothers Hypnotic

The brotherhood of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is literal. Through an unorthodox upbringing, the eight boys were forged into a band as children by their father, Chicago jazz maverick Phil Cohran. Now as young men, making their way on the streets of New York and in the music business, with stardom on the horizon, they … READ MORE

See the Preview for Brothers Hypnotic

Not-always-willing subjects of a utopian family experiment, the eight men of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble were forged into a band as kids by their father, jazz maverick Phil Cohran. Now making their way on the streets and in the music business, they test their father’s ideals against their own brotherly vision.

The Principle of Simplicity

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Brothers Hypnotic, the brothers discuss how their father, Phil Cohran, taught them the importance of long tones in playing horns, to play one note as steady as possible, “the principle of simplicity.” We also seem them playing their horns outside, magically.

Clef the Trombonist

This excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Brothers Hypnotic, Seba aka “Clef,” tells us how he started playing the trombone when he was 4 years old, taught by his father Phil Cohran. He demonstrates how he learned to properly use the horn’s mouthpiece as a boy, until he was able to achieve even tone.

Brothers Hypnotic

Eight brothers who were forged into a band as children by their father, Chicago jazz maverick Phil Cohran, now try to march to their own beat on the streets of New York and in the music business as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

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An Unyielding Commitment to Excellence

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Brothers Hypnotic, the band brothers recite the series of commitments and values which preoccupy them. We then see several of them dutifully practicing their horns separately.