Reginald Cyntje


Born on the island of Dominica and raised on St. Thomas, USVI, trombonist Reginald Cyntje has been mixing cultural heritage with Black American Music since the beginning of his formative years. Growing up in the US Virgin Islands (USVI), he was steeped in the rich cultural music known as Quelbe (the official music of the USVI).

Quelbe was Reginald’s introduction to improvised music. One of his favorite Quelbe songs, Queen Mary, has a powerful message set to syncopated rhythm. This song sets the tone for his mission as a musician – to inspire change with music.

With cultural heritage at the forefront and social justice as the message, this passionate performer has “a deep-seated knowledge of Caribbean music and culture which has settled into his jazz trombone playing” (NPR Music).

 On April 22, 2014 (Earth Day), Reginald Cyntje released his third album Elements of Life featuring pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, drummer Amin Gumbs, vocalist Christie Dashiell, steel panist Victor Provost and saxophonist Brian Settles. The album explores the connection between the human being and the elements that nurture us.

 In 2013, Cyntje released his sophomore album simply titledLove. The Washington City Paper said Love “is thoughtful and surpassingly gorgeous.” After debuting at #3 on the CMJ Jazz chart, Love made it to #10 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart. The album is a tribute to the human spirit.

As a trombonist, educator and activist, Reginald has performed with great musicians including Amiri Baraka, Dr. Billy Taylor, Illinois Jacquet, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gary Thomas, Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band, Nicholas Payton, Ron Blake, Sean Jones, Terrell Stafford, Larry Willis and many others. After sharing the stage with his mentors for many years, Reginald finally released his highly anticipated debut album Freedom’s Children: The Celebration in August of 2011.

On his recordings, you can hear the sounds of calypso, reggae, and other African influenced genres which now give his music a unique flavor.

Reginald Cyntje, “blessed with impressive facility and an immediacy of sound” now resides in the Washington DC area (The Independent Ear). Capital Bop views him as “arguably D.C.’s most agile and expressive trombone player.”

The concept of his music ministry is to spread love, peace and social justice with each expression.

Reginald is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia and is currently working on his master’s degree at the University of Maryland (expected spring 2015). He teaches trombone privately, conducts workshops nationally and is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College.

Alison Crockett

Alison Crockett

Alison Crockett will perform at 8:00 pm on January 18th at Union Arts! She will be joined by Herman Burney and will perform excerpts from her one woman show, “Is this it? My American Dream.” 


Alison Crockett has paid her musical “dues” in full… She is perhaps the quintessential nu jazz/progressive soul singer of her generation and yet you may not have heard of her – – but you’ve no doubt heard her voice… On seminal recordings by King Britt, Blue Six, Us3, Landslide, John Wicks, Mathematics and a whole host of others, Alison’s voice has provided the velvety, sensual sound of tomorrow’s yesterday’s…a captivating tone which evokes both the music of the past and that yet to come. A voice
dripping soul with generous helpings of jazz, gospel and blue, Alison has taken the baton from divas of the present and past such as Lizz Wright, Rachelle Farrelle, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Donna Summer, Diana
Ross and Sarah Vaughn and forged a uniquely personal and singular musical vision.alison_crockett

Alison decided early in her life to pursue a music career. Piano was her first love. “It just called to me. I still feel like a pianist who sings.” However after winning several local vocal talent showcases during her high school years, it quickly became apparent that her voice was a rare gift. Alison honed her vocal skills at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and then a masters degree at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City. As she says, “I set out to be a craftsman; someone who could mold and shape music like sculpture.” Upon graduating, she settled in Philadelphia, where she met superstar DJ/producer King Britt (formerly of Digable Planets.) Britt summarily gave Alison the nickname “Diva Blue” and together they recorded the classic, “Season’s Change” for his groundbreaking Sylk 130 album, “When the Funk Hits the Fan” (Ovum/Sony Music). She was also featured on four other genre bending tracks on the album including the single, “Gettin’ Into It”. Billboard Magazine loved her “throaty, diva-styled vocals.” After touring the US as a member of Sylk 130, Alison relocated to Brooklyn, NY, where she introduced herself to the vibrant New York music scene by fronting hip hop/jazz pioneer Greg Osby’s band. Only a few months later she was approached by Geoff Wilkenson, founder of the pioneering UK based acid jazz outfit Us3 (best known for their 1994 world-wide smash “Flip Fantasia (Biddy Biddy Bop)” ) who’d heard “Season’s Change” and became convinced he was hearing a young legend on the order of his heroes Shirley Bassey, Dianna Washington and Dianne Reeves. In this pre-You Tube, pre-Facebook era, Wilkenson had embarked upon a feverish, months long search to track Alison down and request that she became Us3’s first lead singer. Upon her acceptance, Alison traveled to London to write and sang on the album “An Ordinary Day in an Unusual Place”. The first single, “Get Out”, immediately shot to the top 10 within a few weeks of its release in Japan. In support of the album, Alison experienced her first world tour, as Us3 headlined stadiums and festivals throughout Europe, the US and Japan.

Throughout her tenure with Us3, Alison continued to write, perform and record on a number of interesting musical projects, always looking to grow and remain fresh. To distinguish these side projects, she often recorded under her Sylk 130 pseudonym, Diva Blue. Under the Diva Blue moniker, a 4-song EP enttitled “Azure” was released during the summer of 2001 on the Brooklyn based Soulhead Recordings. The lead track off of “Azure”, an early version of the breakbeat influenced track “Alive”, began to create a buzz on DJ mix shows and in clubs throughout Europe. Almost overwhelmed by the response to the track and near bursting with creative energy and song ideas, Alison could hardly wait to begin working on a project which would showcase the new music she was writing. Her debut solo album, “On Becoming A Woman”, was released to wide acclaim in Japan in June 2003 and in the US and Europe in April 2004. The epic ballad from the album “Like Rain” reached number 3 on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Winner’s 2003 chart on his legendary BBC Radio 1 programme. Alison knew she’d tapped into something special with the album, “I really thought long and hard about this music…agonized over it…it was truly a birth-like experience and that’s why I named the album “On Becoming A Woman”…I feel like I grew in leaps in bounds as both an artist and a person making it…” In 2006 Alison released a collection of remixes based on tracks from “On Becoming A Woman” entitled “The Return Of Diva Blue: On Becoming A Woman Redux”(Sol Image/Village Again/Groove). Featuring mixes by a who’s who of top flight DJ producers: DJ Spinna, Yam Who?, Phil Asher, Mark De Clive-Lowe, Waiwan, Landslide and more, the album became a treasure trove for lovers of deep house music, with DJ Spinna’s take on the song “Crossroads” becoming a signature classic for Alison. In the spring of 2007, Alison released her “love letter to my fans”, the stripped down, acoustic based “Bare”. Much of the album comprised of Alison simply sitting at the piano and singing songs from a backlog of compositions from a particularly prolific period of writing. “There are songs on “Bare” that could be placed on no other album,” she said. “Some had been in my catalog, unheard by anyone but me, for many years. I wanted “Bare” to be a record that you could just sit back, listen and enjoy, while you let all your cares melt away for a short while…”

After taking an extended break from recording in order to focus on mothering her two children, in 2008 Alison returned to the recording studio to work on what would become, “Mommy, What’s A Depression?”, her third solo album of original material. Says Alison, “When I began working on this project in earnest, it was during the heart of the financial crisis in the US, and it seemed as if the world was going to hell in a hand basket…George W. Bush was still the president and most people felt as if he’d run the country into the ground, from starting unnecessary wars, to being negligent during the crisis in New Orleans, to enacting policies which almost caused the collapse of the global economy. So I thought about creating a work of art to reflect the chaos and disorientation I, and many people around me, where feeling at the time.” It would take Alison more than three years to bring her vision to reality, as she and her brother fine-tuned the production to ensure the sonic tapestry was just right. “ A mixture of jazz, soul and electronic music seemed to me the best way to give these messages the weight of the moment. Each of these music forms is all about creative destruction and re-invention, a process it seems we are going through right now. So I call the sonic style we’ve come up with, “Mixtape Jazz”; it’s the sound of taking the familiar and shaping layers and layers of seemingly disparate and sometimes even dissonant components onto it in order to fashion new creative textures. I arranged standard songs from the jazz and soul cannons that seemed to speak to our national and societal condition and, to compliment these, wrote music and lyrics that reflected my own feelings of anger, frustration, bitterness and hope about what’s been going on around me.”

And so with the release of “Mommy, What’s A Depression?” the next chapter in Alison’s musical journey begins. As with all of the music she’s released during a career which has grown to span a generation, her newest songs take risks, challenge preconceptions, push her art form powerfully forward. For this is the essence of who Alison Crockett is as an artist: A fearless musical traveler boldly projecting her inimitable voice into the sonic future.

Grant Langford


Saxophonist Grant Langford is a current member of the US Air Force’s Airmen of Note. Prior to that service he was a touring member of the Count Basie Orchestra from 2005-08. Mr. Langford made 5 recordings with the historic band with legendary artists such as Tony Bennett and Ray Charles. Mr. Langford resides in the DC metro area and is featured on 2014 recordings with the NY Voices, Bobby Caldwell, and Anthony Manough. He received his Bachelors in Music from the New England Conservatory.

Karine Chapdelaine-Walker

Karine Chapdelaine-Walker

Karine is currently the Professor of Jazz Bass at James Madison University, the music teacher at Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School in Washington DC, and a busy freelance musician. She holds a BM from McGill University, and a MM in Music and a MM in Music Education from Howard University. In 2011, Karine was awarded ‘Outstanding Performance in Jazz at the College Graduate Level’ by Downbeat Magazine. Karine’s professional performance career has taken her all over the world, and she has appeared at major venues and festivals such as The Pori Jazz Festival, The North Sea Jazz Festival, The Montreal International Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Karine has performed with Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Paquito D’Rivera, Mary Halvorson, Allison Miller, and The Washington Ballet. During her tenure with the Canadian based pop band ‘Creature’ she had the opportunity to record at SARM studios in London, where Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Madonna has recorded some of their work. Karine is currently endorsed by Godin Guitars.


Shannon Gunn


Shannon Gunn recently earned her Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. At GMU, she had the opportunity to play lead trombone in the GMU Jazz Ensemble as well as  perform with such great musicians as Harry Watters, Jim Carroll, and Kenny Rittenhouse. She also attended James Madison University and Michigan State University for her music studies. She has studied trombone under Harry Watters, Wycliffe Gordon, and Jeannie Little. While playing lead trombone at Michigan State, she had the opportunity to play with Billy Taylor, Rodney Whitacker, and Wycliffe Gordon. She currently plays every Monday night with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, as well as various smaller ensembles in the area. As the music technology teacher at Woodbridge Senior High School, she teaches high school students how to create, record, produce, and market their own music through the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Shannon Gunn has performed with the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Brad Linde Ensemble, Reunion Music Society, American Festival Pops Orchestra, Swing Shift Big Band, Northern Lights Big Band, James Bazen Jazz Band, Manassas Chorale, and Loudoun Jazz Ensemble. She is currently working on heading up her own all-women jazz orchestra Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. She resides in Bristow, VA with her husband, Timothy, and her dog, Faith.


Savannah G. Harris


Up and coming drummer Savannah Harris, journalism major at Howard University, is a student of the music. She is known for her upbeat spirit, her time, and her wide beat that has made her first call for many band leaders in the DC metro area. Hailing from Oakland, CA, she played with Geri Allen at the All-Female Jazz Residency through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Montclair State University during the summer of 2014.


Donvonte McCoy


Donvonte’ McCoy is a world renowned trumpeter. A native of Washington D.C. , Donvonte’ soon found himself in New York city studying music . He began his Jazz career officially with the Lionel Hampton orchestra. Since then, Donvonte’ has performed with many other top names. These include Curtis Fuller, Ellsworth Gipson, and Joe Chambers to name a few. As an educator, Mr. McCoy has held positions in public schools as well as the conservatory. These days are more focused on band leading duties and live performances. The Donvonte’ McCoy quintet has been a regular treat at Washington D.C.`s own Eighteenth Street Lounge .

Sam Prather


Samuel Prather is an exciting and multifaceted pianist, drummer, and vocalist born and raised in Washington DC. Sam has developed a reputation in the local music scene performing and producing with all types of acts. While clearly versed in Jazz, he’s also fluent in the language of Funk, Gospel, Brazilian, Latin, NeoSoul, and dance music from around the world. His sophomore offering is Groove Orchestra which is an attempt to do to groove, what the great jazz orchestras of the Golden Age did for jazz. The 2012 Student Downbeat Award recipient graduated from the masters program at Howard University recently where he collaborated with it’s award winning vocal group Afro Blue. That collaboration led to two of its vocalists Christie Dashiell and Micah Robinson, singing on his smooth duo arrangement of the Jackson 5 hit “I Wanna be Where You Are”.

The DC area is full of talented players that might not be in the limelight as leaders, but populate the world’s tour scene. Upright bassist Kris Funn (Kenny Garrett,Christian Scott), guitarist Samir Moulay (Macy Gray, Lonnie Liston Smith), and saxophonist Elijah Balbed (Larry Willis, Chuck Brown) are examples of that and anchor the powerhouse band on the record.

What this record sounds like is a band that occupies the intersection between Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper, and the Joshua Redman Quartet. The barriers of jazz, funk, latin, brazilian, afrobeat, r&b, soul, hip hop, and modern gospel are all being broken by this band in a way that respects the traditions of the different styles without being confined by them.

James Brown fans should keep an ear out for “Blues for Clyde”, a lively tribute to James Brown’s iconic drummer with a modern twist. Neo soul fans are sure to love the D’Angelo and Stevie Wonder inspired “Time Flies”. Another strong vocal performance is delivered by Shacara Rodgers on the ambitious reworking of Nancy Wilson’s hit “Never Will I Marry”. The band really takes center stage on the instrumental tribute to Snarky Puppy and Fela Kuti “Fela Snarky”. The tune also gets a great guest performance on harmonica by Fred Yonnet (Prince, Stevie Wonder)

It would be easy for all these different genres to sound disjointed and arbitrary, but the consistently inspired arranging, and airtight performances by the band make it all seem like they always belonged together. This record sounds like nothing we’ve heard before, but at the same time feels extremely lived in because we grew up dancing to all the separate ingredients. In doing so, this record brings jazz back out from the concert hall and back to the people. Let’s G.O.!

Jessica Boykin-Settles


Jessica Boykin-Settles began her musical studies as a voice major at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. By her senior year she was the featured vocalist in the school’s jazz orchestra. Upon graduating, she continued her musical pursuits at New School University in New York City. There she had the opportunity to study under the tutelage of great musicians such as Reggie Workman, Junior Mance, Cecil McBee, Arnie Lawrence, Buster Williams, Sheila Jordan, Janet Lawson, Teri Thornton and Dr. Richard Harper. During her stint in New York, Jessica led her own band and had the opportunity to work in a variety of venues in and around New York City. In 1997, Jessica represented the New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Program at the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois and the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) Annual Meeting in Siena, Italy.

In May 2004, Jessica Boykin-Settles received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Howard University in Washington, DC. While there, Jessica sang with Howard’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue, under the direction of Connaitre Miller. After graduating, she spent seven years teaching and mentoring students in the Howard University music program. After taking a two-year break to pursue her singing full time, she is back teaching at Howard University as well as directing the Education Program for the DC Jazz Festival. She also teaches and mentors youth with the Washington Jazz Arts Institute under the direction of Davey Yarborough, and conducts workshops and performs with her quartet throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area.