Jazz is going through exciting, radical reinventions these days, but some core truths remain. First among them: This will always be a live art form. No record compares to a live band, creating something new and responding to its audience in the moment. But it’s getting harder to find the “real thing” in D.C.; some of the city’s most important jazz mainstays have been forced to close in recent years, and artists are having a tough time finding places to present their work.
So we decided to do something about it. This month we’re proud to announce CapitalBop’s Spotlight Residency, a new monthly series that will highlight a different D.C. bandleader each month, providing them with a receptive space to experiment with new ideas and connect with listeners. The residency will take place over the course of one weekend each month, and includes back-to-back concerts on Saturday and Sunday nights as well as a free, open workshop at Sitar Arts Center aimed at young people and their families.
CapitalBop’s first Spotlight artist-in-residence will be Reginald Cyntje, a renowned trombonist and composer who has been a constant source of inventive, original music on the D.C. scene for over a decade. Cyntje’s compositions draw upon the Calypso and Quelbe musical traditions of his native St. Thomas, plus his years of experience in the District.
He will perform on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25-26, at Local 16 on U Street where we’ll be turning a cozy room on the restaurant’s second floor into a pop-up jazz club. On Friday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m., Cyntje will offer a workshop at Sitar Arts Center.
Here’s Luke Stewart, CapitalBop’s director of presenting, on why he chose to present Cyntje as our first Spotlight artist:
For most of CapitalBop’s history, we have been enamored of and inspired by the music of Reginald Cyntje. He has consistently exhibited transcendent grace and skill, able to use his music as a vessel for spiritual communication. From the late-night sessions at Red Door to a stunningly original performance at the Abramson Family Auditorium downtown, we have been proud to host Reginald Cyntje in many different settings. To start our new residency series, he will present two nights of his own original music at Local 16, plus an educational workshop with Sitar Arts Center. This artist’s singular work makes him a true D.C. original.
The artist residency is a time-honored tradition in jazz. Many of the music’s most historic voices honed their craft in extended runs at venues like Minton’s Playhouse or the Five Spot Cafe in New York City, or California’s Lighthouse Cafe. Until it was forced to close in 2016, D.C.’s own Bohemian Caverns provided a similarly fertile ground, welcoming a different artist-in-residence each month and presenting the beloved Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra every Monday night. CapitalBop is thrilled to help keep the tradition alive in a contemporary context.
D.C.’s creative spirit can’t be tamed, and when artists are given space to tap into that spirit in a live setting, it’s anybody’s guess what might happen. We can’t wait to see what this residency brings, and we hope you’ll be there to experience it with us.