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Reginald CyntjeWhen students sign up for Montgomery College Professor Reginald Cyntje’s History of Jazz course, they get much more than a history lesson. Cyntje is an award-winning jazz composer and trombone player. Capital Bop called him one of the area’s greatest talents and named his latest work, Spiritual Awakenings, one of the top five jazz albums of 2015.

Spiritual Awakenings garnered praise across the region, winning Cyntje a 2015 Jazzie award from the Washington City Paper as best composer. A song on the album, Rejoice, was selected by WAMU 88.5’s Bandwith as one of the top 50 of the year.

Cyntje is a trained jazz musician. But his music also reflects the calypso, reggae, and Quelbe music he heard growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students in Cyntje’s classes benefit from his wide knowledge of music and his experience as a working performer.

“I encourage students to look at themselves as a business, as a brand every day—you never know—the classmate sitting next to you might be interviewing you for a job one day,” Cyntje says.

Students might learn a thing or two about time management from the professor as well. In addition to the classes he teaches on campus, he founded the Jegna School of Music, performs regularly in the region, and—of course—writes and practices music.

And Cyntje isn’t planning to slow down any time soon. “I am always thinking about what’s next,” he says, and “how I can improve.”

Photo Credits: Marty William and Herman Burney