Posted by: Reginald Cyntje | August 18, 2009

The Collaborative

…here is the story. I moved to the DC area in 1997 and was embraced
by the music community. Living in areas like Boston, MA, I was
pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the musicians I met in the
DC area. Many became prominent artists on the local/national music

In 1998 I formed the Reginald Cyntje Group and began performing at
various establishments. As I gained respect in the community as a
performer, listeners would ask me to put together a group that
featured some of their favorite musicians. At the time I was 22 years
old and new to the DC area.
I wanted to understand the vibration of the city before I tried to change it.

I spent the next ten years growing, learning and touring with various
groups. In 2008 the opportunity was ripe for something new and I
embarked on the journey of establishing the DC Jazz Collaborative.
When a group of people come together for a common purpose success will
be a strong possibility. With this in mind, I made calls to
bandleaders, innovators and community activist and asked if they would
be interested in being a part of the Collaborative. Everyone said yes,
but I knew that they would be hesitant to act until they saw evidence
that this was going to be something real.

The idea was in my head, but the question was how do I make this a
reality? Well, I contacted the management at Bohemian Caverns and
explained the concept behind the group. Fortunate for me I already
began talking about the idea with the owner of the Caverns long before
I booked the gig. The owner at Bohemian Caverns agreed to give us a
weekend and provide the funds needed to finance a group of this size.
The gig was booked and Bohemian Caverns eventually listed us as the DC
Jazz Collaborative on their website.

I’ve always believed that strength came in numbers. I tried earlier
concepts of creating a collaborative effort. Each situation was a
learning experience. The key was finding a way to change the “me”
mentality among musicians into “we”.

Ok, back to making calls. “Hey cat, this is Reginald. Are you still
interested in being a part of the Collaborative… ” The calls went
out and there were scheduling problems up until the day of the
concerts. There were moments that I wanted to cancel the gig or just
do my own thing and avoid the stress. I knew if I did, I would be a
part of the problem. After booking a group of core musicians (knowing
it was subject to change), the promotions began. I knew how much the
club planned on investing so I wanted to use all resources to make
sure the concerts were a huge success. I reflected on the presidential
race and used that as model for how I would promote the event.

After explaining the concept to the musicians that this was going to
be a collaborative effort, I still knew that promotion from most would
be limited. I made a plan. Emails, text messages, facebook messages,
tweets, phone calls, faxes would go out at certain times every week.
This was going to be a systematic approach to packing the house.

After booking the gig at Bohemian Caverns, the info did not go online
right away. To many it seemed like I was promoting a phantom event.
Regardless, I was determined to work hard promoting. Levinson’s
“Guerrilla Marketing” along with other books and life experience
became my guide. Social Media (facebook, twitter, myspace, etc), in
addition to radio announcements, was a big help in getting the word
out. The twitter community did a fabulous job of retweeting the info
(thank you tweeps). The buzz was in the air and many were excited to
see who were the DC Jazz Collaborative. I received emails from
different people saying they were waiting on this group. Little did
they know it was difficult (and that is putting it lightly) getting
one rehearsal together.

The first concert for the DC Jazz Collaborative was packed. The mobile
reporters were out giving there assessment. Those that could not get
in to the first show waited for the second or came back the following
night. My phone was overflowing with texts from many that could not
get in. The Jazz community, folks from facebook and twitter came out
and told their friends they should be there. After each concert, the
audience waited around to see if we would perform more. There was
excitement in the room. I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. The
musicians were surprised by the response and felt that we had
something special.

The music was a combination of all our experiences. Jazz along with a
strong Caribbean vibe made our concerts fresh and exciting. Dats
right, we had to juke it up wit some calypso and reggae (island talk).
The group included steel pan, trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, piano,
bass and drums. When we finally got on stage, I was happy not to be
promoting and managing schedules. I relaxed and enjoyed the music that
was coming from the bandstand or at least tried to. There were issues
that came up right before shows and on the bandstand.

Scheduling rehearsals to present a high quality product to the
listeners, getting music from performers and dealing with last minute
cancellations made me question if I wanted to pursue a group of this
type. Will it really be a Collaborative? Will others book gigs for the
group? These are some of the questions I asked. When we sold out shows
and the audience left loving the music, the questions were not
important. The DC Jazz Collaborative became a reality.

The DC Jazz Collaborative began in 2008 as an effort to bring an
eclectic group of musicians together to create beautiful music. The
group contains innovators, community activist and elders who are all
influential in the DC Jazz Community. Since its inception, the group
has performed high energy infused music to sold out shows. The DC Jazz
Collaborative presents a fresh sound that inspires with each note.

NOTE: For more info on the DC Jazz Collaborative or The Reginald Cyntje Group call 202.495.0476



  1. It felt GOOD reading that!!!

    So many inspirational messages…don’t give up, use every available medium, do it even if you have to do it alone, trust the process, hard work pays off…and many others!!

    Very happy for you & proud of you, and Reg…NOT AT ALL SURPRISED 😉

    This is what I expect from you…your passion, compassion & unwavering fortitude is obvious. Keep on, keepin’ on! I’m looking forward to your future 🙂

    ((HUGE HUGS))

    BTW…I like the changes of your blog, I changed mine too,

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