Taiwanese American trombonist Peter Lin talks to us about his jazz band The Lintet, how the Taiwanese community has shaped his life, the importance of connecting to the audience and community and being true to oneself—and why he incorporates Taiwanese folk songs into their repertoire.
Talk a little bit about The Lintet. How did you start?
The Lintet is a band led by yours truly for the past four years; dedicated towards providing quality jazz and soul music for all communities. I often state that I am a Taiwanese-American trombonist when providing some personal biographical information, to really show that jazz has no boundaries when it comes to who can play it. We have played for several music festivals in the area and have steady gigs at local clubs and bars. Most notably, we have performed for the United Nations for Taiwan Rally in Times Square.
The whole idea of the band started for two reasons: the love of playing for people and to increase awareness of all of these great musicians in the New Jersey and New York area!
As a William Paterson undergrad, our instructors and professors told us that the playing experience outside of school was what the whole thing was about. Yet, there were little to no opportunities given to us, so I decided to start looking in the area for some gigs. We ended up playing at some local jazz clubs and bars shortly after that; building up our reputation and tightness as a band. I think people can recognize quality and maturity, which is why our band has been working quite a bit.
I also believe that if we want to continue to thrive as a community, it is important to continually support local Taiwanese businesses and art. I hope that this band will bring some jazz music into the Taiwanese community and to help see that it is possible for young Taiwanese people to play jazz as well!
Who is currently in your band?
The band members have changed quite frequently in the past years, but at the moment, we have a quintet-sized group. Benjamin Kovacs, our tenor saxophonist, is a recent graduate of the Jazz Masters program at William Paterson University and more importantly my best friend. He really knows music inside-and-out and has been vital in putting together our musical programming. Tadataka Unno, our pianist, is from Tokyo, Japan and currently lives in New York City. He has performed with jazz legends such as Jimmy Cobb and Frank Wess. We also happen to have the same birthday! Our drummer, Noel Sagerman, has played with everyone in the area and is one of the most swinging drummers right now. The bassist, Alex Tremblay, is a recent graduate of the Hartt School of Music and currently lives in Brooklyn, where he is playing all the time with some great musicians.
How does your Taiwanese heritage influence your music?
In jazz music, it is extremely important to know who you are as a person and where you come from in order to express yourself fully. Consider this aspect; jazz has a deep connection and history with the black experience in America, which makes you wonder why the music sounds the way it does today. That’s why I think it is especially important today to speak through the music, considering all the current events involving police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. I think everyone can contribute something to this music, especially since some form of oppression has been a common theme in a lot of cultures.
My experiences growing up in the Taiwanese church and Taiwanese-American programs are all a part of my core beliefs and community. I was counselor for a number of years at a fantastic organization called TANG (Taiwanese American Next Generation) and have played for Taiwanese organizations such as TAANY and TAANJ. I share these experiences on a daily basis, whether verbally or through my instrument.
Besides sharing some Taiwanese culture with my musician friends (like food, sports, or history), I also incorporate Taiwanese folk songs into our repertoire. I tend to make set lists according to what the audience recognizes and since we have played for many Taiwanese events and functions, I’ll go and investigate the folk songs my family grew up with and try to find ways to fit that song in the jazz genre. Actually, by doing this, I have definitely found appreciation for my family’s heritage and discovered new tidbits on the Taiwanese culture! It’s a pretty fulfilling experience to play music that blends every part of your being!
We have recorded two Taiwanese folk songs on our demo so far, which you can hear on our Soundcloud. You will also have the opportunity to hear these folk songs at the next United Nations for Taiwan rally in September.
Are you guys working on any special projects?
Besides playing a good strand of gigs for the summer, we are also thinking of recording some new material and originals and putting an album out for distribution. We have not completely finalized those details but we are working on it and seeing how the music fits with our audience.
I also believe that in order to really get a project going, we need to establish a good relationship with both the club owners and the audience. What good is playing music for people if there are no people around? We are definitely looking for more gigs and opportunities so we can continue to cultivate our artistry.
When is your next performance?
Our next performances will actually be birthday concerts for Tadataka Unno (our pianist) and myself because we both have the same birthday on August 15th!
We have one celebration on Saturday, August 14th from 7:00pm-8:30pm in New York City at a nice venue called Club Bonafide located at 212 E 52nd Street. This particular venue requires a ticket purchase, which can be found on our Facebook page.
We have one celebration for all the New Jersey folks on Tuesday, August 16th from 7:30pm-10:30pm at Ricalton’s Village Tavern in South Orange. Free and open to the public! Also, I will be giving away free t-shirts at these shows!
After that, we have a show on Friday, August 26th from 7:30pm-11:30pm in Newark, NJ at a great restaurant called Duke’s Southern Table.
Taiwanese-American artist Peter Lin has been recently described by Downbeat Magazine as a “solid, fluid, and smooth” trombonist. He is currently a graduate student of Jazz Trombone Studies at Rutgers University and received his bachelors of music from William Paterson University. Deeply rooted in the trombone tradition, he has studied with jazz luminaries such as Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller, Conrad Herwig, and Steve Turre. As a featured soloist and sideman, Peter has performed with Winard Harper, Charli Persip, Josh Evans, Valarie Ponomarev, Kenny Davis, Steve Williams, and Radam Schwartz. He also leads his own jazz small group, The Lintet, which remains active in the tri-state area.
The Lintet is a New York based jazz ensemble led by Taiwanese-American trombonist, Peter Lin, whose playing had been reviewed by Downbeat Magazine as “solid, fluid, and smooth”. This band mainly features standards and originals that reminds people of Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and more! Recent performances include the 31st Anniversary Gala at the MinKwon Center in Queens, KTF Rally in Times Square, Toshi’s Living Room & Penthouse in NYC, Duke’s Southern Table in Newark, and TUMI’s Global Conference at Battery Gardens.
Main website: www.lintet.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thelintet/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/TheLintet
The Lintet play classic Taiwanese folk song “Diu Diu Deng” 丟丟銅仔! (“water drops falling on train in tunnel”)