At the Movies

Thunder Soul documents Kashmere High School's jazz band of the '70s

Thunder Soul documents Kashmere High School's jazz band of the '70s

If you missed Thunder Soul, Mark Landsman’s irresistibly enjoyable documentary that offers an affectionately respectful celebration of the legendary Kashmere High School jazz stage band of the 1970s, when it was shown at Cinema Arts Festival Houston last November, it's back in Houston-area theaters for a limited run. 

For the benefit of those who tuned in late: Back during the Me Decade, Kashmere band director Conrad O. Johnson Sr., affectionately known as "Prof," was a man with an audacious plan: At a time when most other high school jazz ensembles stuck to big-band standards, he drew up a playlist of funky Top 40 hits and his own original compositions for his student musicians to perform.

The students added some tightly choreographed smooth moves to the mix, amping their stage presence while victoriously competing in regional and national events. Drawing heavily from a wealth of archival material — everything from yearbook photos to vintage movie clips — Landsman vividly conveys the historical context for his true-life, Houston-based human drama.

But the most affecting segments in Thunder Soul are those that focus on a 2008 Kashmere Stage Band reunion concert rehearsed and performed at Kashmere High. Many of the same musicians reunited for a live performance after the Cinema Arts Festival’s screening.

Special question-and-answer sessions with members of the Kashmere Reunion Stage Band featured in the film will take place today and tonight at the following theaters:

AMC Deerbrook — After the 2:55 p.m. show, featuring Reginald Nelson

Cinemark The Woodlands — After the 4:30 p.m. showing, featuring Rollo Rollins

Regal Greenway Palace — After the 5 p.m. show, featuring Craig Baldwin

Regal Houston Marq*E — After the 5:10 p.m. show, featuring Wendl Turner

AMC First Colony — After the 7:10 p.m. show, featuring Conrad Johnson

AMC Studio 30 — After the 8 p.m. show, featuring Galla Mitchell

AMC Gulf Pointe 30 — After the 9:40 p.m. show, featuring Gerald Calhoun

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Thunder Soul is the story of Houston's Kashmere High School and its charismatic band leader Conrad "Prof" Johnson.