In 1967, music teacher Conrad Johnson saw Otis Redding play and decided to bring that vibe back to Kashmere High School's student band. The result was deep, brilliant, big band funk. Cult favorites of rare groove trainspotters, the Kashmere Stage Band's recordings were reissued a few years ago by Now Again Records. Grab a taste at MySpace. From the Kashmere Stage Band description:
In the mid '60s through the '70s, in Houston's bustling metropolis, Johnson (known by many as "Prof.") made a career of producing leagues of musicians capable of playing competitively with any band in the nation, professional or otherwise. More than simply a product of the big band era (his childhood friends and early musical peers included legends like Illinois Jacquet and Arnette Cobb), Johnson bestowed a living history to his young students. And while many band directors simply tolerated the use of popular rhythms in their stage bands, Johnson embraced the funk movement that enveloped his kids. He encouraged composition - both by writing original funk songs for his band to perform and by allowing the Kashmere Band to play songs written by band members. Never one to succumb to novelty, Johnson didn't simply throw funk beats beneath a jazz song to please his kids. He instructed his band to play funk because he respected the funk idiom in the same way he respected jazz. Nor did he simply borrow charts from progressive big banders such as Herman, as was common amongst high school bandleaders from the era. He arranged nearly every one of his band's songs himself, and those that he didn't arrange he allowed his students to arrange. He worked year-round with his eager charges, constantly pushing the limits as to what their band could accomplish.
Kashmere Stage Band (MySpace, thanks Jean Hagan and Jason Perkins!)