Hundreds of community members on St. Thomas gathered Friday for Jazz in the Park, a quarterly music series sponsored by International Capital & Management Company in Charlotte Amalie’s historic Roosevelt Park.
The free event welcomed home the featured trombonist, producer, educator and activist Reginald Cyntje and the Reginald Cyntje Group.Born in Dominica but raised on St. Thomas, Cyntje has won the Washington City Paper’s “Best Trombonist Award” in 2011, 2013 and 2014. The group was recently featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America and performs at festivals and jazz clubs across the United States, Europe and throughout the Caribbean.
The Bertha C. Boschulte’s Torch Fire Jazz Band opened the festivities, followed by the school’s concert choir and Flambo Combo. Towards the end of their performance, Cyntje accepted an impromptu invitation on stage from BCB’s band leader, Calvin Jones, where he joined on a rendition of “Meringue.”
Once Cyntje got on stage, he serenaded the audience with a two-hour performance displaying native island influences through his music. Cyntje ignited the audience with a solo introduction before his band joined in to give a complete symphony of Afro-Caribbean sounds.
Throughout the evening, the crowd swayed from side to side, exploded with cheers and jumped out of their seats to dance to the groovy rhythm that RCG brought to the stage.
“We founded Jazz in the Park with one main goal in mind, which is to bring the community together through music and we did just that on Friday evening,” said ICMC Director of Community Relations Karen Nelson-Hughes. “It was so fulfilling to see the positive response from the crowd as Cyntje performed for his fellow Virgin Islanders. Many attendees approached us and expressed how pleased they were with the event and that they look forward to the next installment.”
In addition to the musical performances, “Jazz in the Park” featured activities along “Vendor’s Row,” which offered art, food, and other locally made products for sale. Nonprofit organizations were also allotted free spaces, including the Rotaract Club of St. Thomas, Boys and Girls Club and the WOFICC-GPHI Youth Group, giving them the chance to distribute brochures and other educational material to the event’s attendees. The Kids Zone kept children engaged with face-painting and other kid’s activities.
“Creating, developing and implementing community-focused events, projects and programs aimed at improving the Virgin Islands in a myriad of ways is a key component of this event for our company,” said Cornel Williams, ICMC President. “Jazz in the Park is just one of those initiatives and we are pleased to say, one that has become one of the premier jazz events on St. Thomas and also one that truly brings the community together through music.”
The “Local Author’s Tent” provided “Jazz in the Park” attendees the opportunity to meet and engage with two local authors, Mario Picayo and Dr. Lonnie J. Hudspeth, who sold signed copies of their works.
The next “Jazz in the Park” installment is planned for July 23.
Friday’s installment was funded in part by contributions from Innovative, USVI Department of Tourism, Barefoot Wines and Budweiser and the Community Foundation of the Virgin islands.