After moving to DC in 1997, I quickly began working with seasoned musicians on the scene. In 1998, I led my first band.
Reginald Cyntje Quartet (1998)
This band featured Leonardo Lucini on bass, Clyde Adams on drums and Allyn Johnson on piano. I really loved Leonardo’s spirit. Of all the cats, Leo was probably the most mature one in the group at the time. Clyde was pure fire. Clyde would inspire me to play stuff on the horn that only came out in the moment. I was also inspired by Allyn Johnson. Allyn was filled with fresh harmonic ideas. I tried to record this group but resources were limited.
Reginald Cyntje Group (1998-1999)
Later in the year, I started working with a different group of cats. Around this time, I changed the name to the Reginald Cyntje Group. The band consisted of Janelle Gill on piano, Michael Hawkins on bass and Clyde Adams on drums. Janelle’s playing was very tasteful. I loved the way she approached the chord changes. Michael Hawkins always impressed me with his big sound. Mike’s sound was warm and infectious. I loved how Clyde would quickly memorize charts then add his own flavor to the music. I did many gigs with this band. Kenny Rittenhouse recorded the band and I made a demo using my computer. I used the demo to get more gigs and Jamal Muhammad shared the tracks on WPFW.
Reginald Cyntje Large Ensemble (1999-2000)
This ensemble featured Ameen Saleem on bass, Joe Kaplowitz on piano and organ, Antonio Parker on Sax, Jamal Brown on flute and Nasar Abadey on drums. I loved the sound of this band. It was hard to keep this group together due to financial constraints.
I spent the next few years working in a variety of groups in and around NYC. When I returned to DC, I came back with a different mindset.
Reginald Cyntje Group (2002)
At this time, I began exploring the trio sound. For this group, I used Nasar Abadey on drums and James King on bass. We did a series of trio gigs together. I learned a lot working with Nasar and James. James is masterful at comping. Nasar provided the freedom to explore rhythmically and harmonically. After honing the sound of the trio, we later had a quartet gig at Twins Jazz. That weekend was pure magic with the addition of Allyn Johnson.
Reginald Cyntje Group (2003-2004)
At this point, I was using James King frequently. Then one evening I had a gig at Bossa Bistro and James couldn’t make it so he sent a sub. Herman Burney showed up and we hit it off right away. Herman and I started playing in a duo setting. We played at various venues and practiced regularly. After working on a concept, we added Clyde Adams to the mix. We began exploring trio playing. Our home was JoJo’s on U St but we would perform at different venues. This trio was pure fire. Everyone within earshot, felt the vibe that came from the stage. With this group, I met many elders in the DC area.
Reginald Cyntje Group (2004-2006)
Around this time, I started using Amin Gumbs on drums and Benito Gonzalez on piano with Herman Burney on bass. We played regularly as a quartet. Clyde left town… I really missed the trio setting with Clyde but I was exploring a new sound with Amin and Benito. Benito brought a tremendous amount of energy to the bandstand. Amin brought the familiar sound from our hometown. With Benito, we would explore different keys on any tune during a performance.
During the next three years, I got acclimated to being in the army band. My schedule only allowed for freelance gigs and military engagements.
Reginald Cyntje Group (2008)
I walked into a spot on U St and heard guitarist John Lee. I really loved his musical approach. I booked some gigs with John on guitar, Amin on drums and Herman on bass. At this time, I was experimenting with electronics. The vibe was great.
DC Jazz Collaborative (2009)
Our first two performances were beautiful. It felt like a family reunion but due to schedules and finances, it was hard keeping the group together.
Reginald Cyntje Group (2009-present)
I first learned about Victor Provost through Amin. When I met Victor, we hit it off right away. The group became Herman Burney on bass, Victor Provost on steel pan and Amin Gumbs on drums. One of the things I love about this group is the willingness to practice. In 2011, we added Christie Dashiell to the group. In 2012, I returned to the piano sound with the addition of Allyn Johnson.
In this group there is a lot of history. Amin introduced me to jazz when we were in grade school. Allyn and I have been playing together for 17 years plus Allyn played in my very first band. Herman and I have been working together since 2003. We’ve developed a synergy that listeners speak about frequently. Victor and I play together like we’ve known each other for 20 years.
Christie first impressed me at a jam session on U St. I knew then that I wanted to work with her. Since that time, we’ve developed a vibe that can be heard on all three recordings. Christie’s voice blends perfectly with the sound of the band.
I’m happy with where we are and the stairs we took to get here.
On our recordings you can hear the evolution of the Reginald Cyntje Group.