B i o g r a p h y
REGINALD CYNTJE (born in Roseau Dominica and raised on St. Thomas, USVI) is a trombonist, educator, producer, and composer. He has created and performed an eclectic range of music. When you listen to Cyntje perform, you hear a passion for life and love in his sound.
Growing up in the US Virgin Islands (USVI), he was steeped in the rich cultural music known as Quelbe (the official music of the USVI). Quelbe was Reginald’s introduction to improvised music.
With cultural heritage at the forefront and social justice as the message, he has “a deep-seated knowledge of Caribbean music and culture which has settled into his jazz trombone playing” (NPR Music).
To date, Cyntje has recorded five albums as a leader. Rise of the Protester (2019), his most recent album, sonically captures humanity’s need to thrive when faced with adversity. This is his boldest statement on social justice. Rise of the Protester, "Equal parts love and righteous force" (Capitalbop), features tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, drummer Lenny Robinson, bassist Herman Burney, and trombonist/composer/producer Reginald Cyntje.
Social justice is a common theme on Cyntje’s albums. His fourth album focuses on justice within. Spiritual Awakening (2015), featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America, musically embodies humanity’s complex journey from introspection to a celebration of freedom. The album features vocalist Christie Dashiell, drummer Carroll CV Dashiell III, pianist Allyn Johnson, steel panist Victor Provost, drummer Amin Gumbs, pianist Janelle Gill, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, and bassist Herman Burney. This album won Cyntje the title of Washington City Paper’s Composer of the Year. Atonement became a fan favorite and Rejoice was selected as one of the top 50 songs of the year by WAMU 88.5's Bandwith. The album made it to the #3 spot on the RMR Top 50 Jazz Chart.
Elements of Life, released in 2014 (best DC album of 2014 Washington City Paper), features pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, drummer Amin Gumbs, vocalist Christie Dashiell, steel panist Victor Provost, and saxophonist Brian Settles. The album explores the connection between the human being and the elements that nurture us.
In 2013, Cyntje released his sophomore album, simply titled Love. The Washington City Paper said Love “is thoughtful and surpassingly gorgeous.” After debuting at #3 on the CMJ Jazz chart, Love made it to #10 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart. The album is a tribute to the human spirit.
His first album, Freedom's Children: The Celebration, was released in August of 2011. This album blends Jazz, Caribbean rhythms and Afrobeat to make a perfect setting for the listener to enjoy the audible testament of "Peace and Love." Freedom’s Children: The Celebration quickly became a favorite among fans with hits like Queen Mary, Children’s Parade, Daybreak and Peace and Love.
On his recordings, you can hear the sounds of calypso, reggae, and other African-influenced genres which now give his music a unique flavor.
Cyntje has appeared on over 30 recordings from jazz to hip-hop. He’s performed with such luminaries as Amiri Baraka, Dr. Billy Taylor, Illinois Jacquet, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band, Ron Blake, Marc Cary, Joe Chambers, Cyrus Chestnut, George Duke, Benny Golson, Wycliffe Gordon, Sean Jones, Jason Moran, Johnny O'Neal, Nicholas Payton, Vanessa Rubin, Terrell Stafford, Gary Thomas, Tim Warfield, Larry Willis, and many other extraordinary artists.
As a trombonist and educator, he's toured the United States, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.
A career highlight included Reginald returning home to the US Virgin Islands in 2016 to perform for Jazz in the Park, Presented by International Capital & Management Company, as the featured artist.
In 2017, Cyntje had the honor of being invited to Cochabamba, Bolivia to conduct master classes and perform with the D Jazz Big Band for the 60th Anniversary of Centro Boliviano Americano. The trip was sponsored by the US Embassy in Bolivia.
In 2018, Cyntje performed for the US Premier of Jason Moran’s James Reese Europe and The Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin at the Kennedy Center. In 2020, Cyntje will be touring the show with Mr. Moran.
Cyntje, “blessed with impressive facility and an immediacy of sound” (The Independent Ear) now resides in the Washington DC area. Capital Bop views him as “arguably D.C.’s most agile and expressive trombone player.”
Cyntje is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia and received his master’s degree at the University of Maryland. Additional studies include semesters at Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Montgomery College, the Naval School of Music, and Interlochen. He is also a veteran of the US Army (389th Army Band) and the DC National Guard. Currently, he leads his own groups and works as a sideman in numerous bands.
Cyntje is also the founder/owner of Jegna School of Music, a school that provides music lessons, workshops and mentoring concerts for intergenerational students; the founder and creative director of Cyntje Music, LLC, a one stop music boutique that includes booking, curating and assisting artists.
Reginald Cyntje, the educator, is the Director of Jazz Studies at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, a professor of music at Montgomery College, Prince George's Community College, and a teaching artist with the Washington Performing Arts Society. Cyntje has also worked with Jazz at Lincoln Center's "Syncopated Leadership."
In 2014, Cyntje authored Stepping Stones: 15 studies in improvisation.
The concept of his music ministry is to spread love, peace and social justice with each expression.