Introducing The Reginald Cyntje Group: Who Are These Guys?


Patrick Jarenwattananon writes about The Reginald Cyntje Group, a jazz ensemble whose members hail from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and the U.S. They recently played at the Washington D.C. club Bohemian Caverns. Jarenwattananon says:

[. . .] They’re among the premier musicians in the region, some being bandleaders themselves, and they all have strong individual sound identities. So we wanted to introduce them to you. Collectively, they’re a group led by trombonist Reginald Cyntje, who composes and arranges all the music you’ll hear. His personal style reflects the Caribbean music he heard growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the spiritual leanings and social-justice missions that are a part of his persona, and the driving grooves for which D.C. jazz is known. He took time out to explain to us why he assembled his band the way he did — and introduced us to all of its members. [. . .]

Amin Gumbs, drums: Amin and I were born on the exact same day. We’re the exact same age. … We were born on different islands — he was born on a different island, and I was born on Dominica. We were both raised in the Virgin Islands.

Amin and I, we met in the seventh grade. What’s interesting about that — I didn’t start playing the trombone until the seventh grade, and Amin had been playing since the fourth grade. His father is a musician, as well. So I admired this — Amin was in the advanced band; I was in beginning band. I was like, “This cat is my age, and he’s killin’.”

Over the years, Amin and I got really close. What was interesting about that was that Amin would always encourage me. I would be into one style of music, like I would be really checking out Christian Lindberg, who’s a European classical trombonist. And Amin would be like, “Hey, man, check out this jazz album.” Or: “Check out this reggae album, or check out this other album.” He really exposed me to a lot of different styles of music.

[. . .] Victor Provost, steel pan:  When Victor Provost first moved to the D.C. area, Amin Gumbs sent me a message: “Hey man, there’s this killin’ steel pan player that’s here from St. John.” The funny thing is, Victor and I didn’t know each other in the Virgin Islands. We met here in the D.C. area when he moved here. So I responded to Amin’s message and I said, “I’m going to contact Victor.” [. . .]

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