Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Saints go marching in! The new recordings of Reginald Cyntje and Victor Provost, in context.

Trombonist Reginald Cyntje (pronounced sin-chee) and pannist Victor Provost represent, to me, an opportunity to understand the connection between Caribbean jazz and the USVI as a locus of the New World African music from a social and critical perspective. Both these musicians were raised in the US Virgin Islands, before migrating to the mainland US for music training and careers in jazz. That early influence, without the distance of "independence" that other Caribbean jazzists have, marks a point of reference to understand the recent output of these two Washington, DC based musicians.

Music scholar Warren R. Pinckney Jr. investigated the interrelationship between the mainland and the Virgin Islands jazz scenes in his 1992 essay "Jazz in The U.S. Virgin Islands", and he observed that:
After purchasing the islands in 1917, the United States set out to "Americanize the people of the Virgin Islands," primarily by introducing American-style public education. An indirect outcome of this Americanization, coupled with influences from various Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico, was the discouragement of native Virgin Islands culture...The Virgin Islands and mainland United States jazz scenes have a fundamental mutual relationship: the American jazz scene provides the models upon which local players base their performance styles,and the Virgin Islands jazz scene provides new performance venues for American players.
—Pinkney Jr., Warren R. "Jazz in the U.S. Virgin Islands." American Music, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 441-467. Web. 9 Sep. 2010