In a series of splendid jazz albums, trombonist and composer Reginald Cyntje has been musically chronicling the range of human emotions, and providing a musical engagement with the human spirit, the soul, the cerebral self. An intelligent understanding of ourselves culminates in this new recording, Rise of the Protester, which documents the resistance of the “hue man” to bondage, to deprivation, to prejudice, and to injustice in both Caribbean and American spaces, reflecting Cyntje’s multiple heritages as a Dominican raised in the US Virgin Islands, and now living in the United States. Taking his cues from a historical record of resistance, literal and figurative — from the likes of Harriet Tubman and “Queen” Mary Thomas of St Croix to Malcolm X and others — Cyntje’s evolution of protest is given gravitas with music that engages the urgent rhythms of Caribbean movement and the contemplative space of jazz. This is by no means mournful dissonance, but a joyous celebration of spirit wanting to be free.
My Good Day Ronald “Boo” Hinkson (Single)
St Lucian music icon and guitarist Ronald “Boo” Hinkson has a career equivalent to that of an ambassador for his native island and its annual jazz festival. The languid pleasures of Caribbean life are mirrored in the tropical smooth jazz feel of this song. Featuring the vocals of Irvin “Ace” Loctar and Shannon Pinel, and Hinkson’s “signature feathery touch,” this song’s inspirational message of hope and gratitude is made clearer when you grasp the relationship between our Caribbean realities and the vision of the tourist brochure. “Survival is the triumph of stubbornness,” said St Lucian poet Derek Walcott, and in these lyrics, you get the sense that a good day is just around the corner from a series of regular bad yesterdays. The jazz guitar in the hands of giants like Wes Montgomery and George Benson became the smooth sonic antidote to melancholy, and Hinkson merrily continues that tradition here.