Reginald Cyntje plays an instrument I hold a special weakness for: the trombone. I'm not exactly sure why I find that slidey mutated trumpet so damn fascinating, but it's probably the fact that it's appreciably off kilter from the more formal staticities of standard axes. It was a successful experiment from the trumpet in 1375 and called first a trompette des menestrals and then a sackbutt in the early 1400s, thence on to 'trombone' in the 1700s, so it's been around for a long time and may well be the perfect jazz instrument, despite it's baroque birthright, because it allows for so much in terms of a looseness both defying and adhering to formulaics. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Mr. Cyntje composes in such a fashion that one harks solidly back to what I call the the Third Wave in jazz (First Wave: Louis Armstrong & Dixie; Second Wave: Monk, Kirk, Mingus, Dizzy, Duke, Miles, etc., otherwise known as the Time Of Rampant Genius; Third Wave: Blue Note/CTI era). I'm mightily tempted to call the advent of ECM the Fourth Wave all on its own and include Cyntje there, as I get a good deal of overpowering Kenny Wheeler depths and imagery in his work, but will for the moment restrain myself.
Regardless, this is without doubt some of the tastiest 'bone work I've heard in the last 20 years, cleverly respectful of tradition while immensely literate in the most modern of veins, hence my allusion to Wheeler, a trumpet/flugelhorn player of daunting powers. Love commences with an astrally airy free-spirited lark, but the second cut, the 8:37 Beauty, is stunning for Cyntje's lines, so absolutely mesmerizing that it reads beyond Wheeler into Tomasz Stanko territory. Interestingly, some of the attribution of the integrity of that goes back to the land of his birth, the U.S. Virgin Islands and a form of music I'd never heard of: quelbe (in the British Virgin Islands known as 'fungi'). Thus also, the presence of the steelpan here, an instrument which traveled from Trinidad & Tobago (near Venezuela) over the waters to the USVI, Haiti, and other areas.
Quelbe is often light, festive, often humorous music, which accounts for the summer's day attitude on many of the compositions here, thus a pleasant breezy ambience is clear everywhere, but when Reginald gets deeply into his cerebellum, a significant transition occurs. In Washington D.C., he's known as "arguably" one of the area's best players. I have to challenge that and cite him as inarguably one of America's best trombonists. Period. No hedging. Because of that, as thoroughly enjoyable as this CD is, I must hope he'll soon form a quartet that squarely spotlights him either as a soloist or in duets (another horn player or pianist Allyn Johnson, the keyboardist here, would be good choices, above a bass/drums rhythm section).
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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