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Documentary follows Hypnotic Brass Ensemble as brothers travel the world sharing their artistic vision

Documentary follows Hypnotic Brass Ensemble as brothers travel the world sharing their artistic vision

Maysles Cinema
343 Malcolm X Blvd. between 127th & 128th Sts.
March 24-30, 7:30

A real family affair, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble includes eight sons of jazz musician Kelan Phil Cohran, a trumpeter who played with such legends as Jay McShann and Sun Ra, cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and started the Affro-Arts Theatre in Chicago. HBE’s compelling story is told in Reuben Atlas’s spirited feature documentary debut, Brothers Hypnotic, which is having its exclusive U.S. theatrical premiere March 24-30 as part of Livia Bloom’s “Documentary in Bloom” series at Harlem’s Maysles Cinema. Atlas followed the band for four years, from its hometown of Chicago to Amsterdam, from Ireland to London, and to numerous spots in New York City, a kind of second home for the group, which consists of siblings Gabriel “Hudah” Hubert on trumpet, Saiph “Cid” Graves on tenor trombone, Amal “Baji” Hubert on trumpet, Tycho “L.T.” Cohran on bass/sousaphone, Jafar “Yosh” Graves on trumpet, Uttama “Rocco” Hubert on euphonium, Seba “Clef” Graves on bass trombone, and Tarik “Smoove” Graves on trumpet (in addition to Christopher Anderson on drums). Atlas shows the band playing its unique blend of funk, jazz, and hip-hop at major festivals, in clubs, on the street, in the subway, and in the studio. Their music comes together organically, as evidenced onstage and on such albums as Flipside, Bulletproof Brass, and The Brothas, highlighted by such original songs as “War,” “Balicky Bon,” “Touch the Sky,” “Black Boy,” and “Party Started.” The members of HBE talk about what it was like being raised by two mothers on Chicago’s South Side (the eight brothers come from three different women; their father has nearly two dozen children total) and a father who would get them up at six in the morning to start rehearsing in what became the Phil Cohran Youth Ensemble. They discuss their father’s legacy and their career strategies, in particular an offer from Atlantic Records; meet with managers Knox Robinson and Mark Murphy; and, later, hang with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, who runs the independent label Honest Jon’s. Along the way, they get to play with Yasin Bey (Mos Def) and Prince while striving to maintain their artistic integrity and high moral values. It’s a feel-good tale that turns poignant when they reconvene with their father near the end of the film. Atlas and members of the band will be on hand for Q&As following the March 28 and 29 screenings; HBE will also be performing live at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on March 29 and 30.

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