by Giovanni Russonello
It sure isn’t the worst February this town has ever known, but there’s still quite a nasty bite to it. At Chez Billy on Sunday, the District’s best Caribbean jazz musicians will be sending out sun-drenched rays of sound, and danceable grooves. Reginald Cyntje, one of the area’s greatest trombonists, is about to record his second LP, The Love Album, and will be displaying original material from that record with a combo. The steel pan virtuoso Victor Provost — like Cyntje, a Virgin Islands native — will play with his own band. And then there’s Quincy Phillips, one of the most imposing drummers in the world, who tours with the renowned trumpeter Roy Hargrove and plays in D.C.’s beloved Young Lions trio.
The loft will take place again upstairs at Chez Billy, the cozy Petworth den that serves delicious French food and drinks from a full bar. It’s located at 3815 Georgia Ave. NW, just across the street from the Petworth Metro stop. As usual, we suggest a $15 donation to the musicians, but no one will be turned away if they can’t give that much. This truly is one of the most talented loft lineups in recent memory — don’t miss out!
Quincy Phillips, who tours with the international stars Roy Hargrove and Roberta Gambarini, has a pattering drum sound that swings and struts at the same time. He isn’t technically a D.C. resident (he hails from Baltimore) but ever since he attended Howard University’s jazz studies program the District has refused to let him go. He performs at Bohemian Caverns all the time, and always knows how to light a fire under the bandleader — whether it’s a legend or an up-and-coming local. Here he will step out in front with his own group.
The trombonist Reginald Cyntje is always on the move. He released a strong album in 2011, Freedom’s Children, that blended the sunny optimism of Caribbean rhythm with his redoubtable jazz chops. A few months back, he brought an innovative, four-trombone ensemble to a D.C. Jazz Loft. Late last year, he did a run of Sunday brunches at Twins Jazz, where he workshopped tunes for his forthcoming album. At this loft, he will play some of those tunes with a combo.
(Williams is the trumpeter on the far left)
There’s not much you can say about something as stunning as the two-handed deluge that Victor Provost unleashes every time he plays the steel pan. From the pretty, clinking instrument he draws strength, warmth and pathos — and he does it with the quick, sure-stepping rhythm that only a jazz master knows. In 2011, he released a very strong album (it reached No. 3 on CapitalBop’s year-end list) that showcased his tight, memorable compositions. It will be a treat to hear him present a mix of originals and covers at the helm of his band on Sunday.
Photo on flyer of Quincy Phillips courtesy Timothy Forbes Photography.