Trombonist/composer Peter Lin grew up listening to an eclectic variety of genres around the house. A classical student on both violin and trombone until middle school, he developed a strong musical foundation before embodying all the different musical styles around the world. Jazz caught his attention in high school, before he continued his passion for music in college. As the son of Taiwanese immigrants, Lin embodies two diverse cultures and has discovered a musical voice and identity that are true to both.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and raised in Whippany, New Jersey, Lin found himself in a musical environment. His mother, a pianist at the local church, and his grandmother, a piano professor, both started him on his path. Raised classically on violin and trombone until middle school, he developed a strong foundation, eventually transitioning to jazz in high school when he heard recordings of other trombonists like Curtis Fuller, JJ Johnson, Slide Hampton, and Robin Eubanks.
After attending many supportive jazz programs in the tristate area, Peter decided in his sophomore year of high school to follow his passion for jazz trombone studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
His plan was to have both a music education degree and a jazz performance degree until he started attending concerts in New York City.
Lin recalls, “I remember hearing Joe Lovano’s quartet for the first time at the Village Vanguard. I didn’t quite understand everything that was going on stage. But, I was so intrigued by the music and the feeling that I thought ‘Wow, I really want to play this music forever.’”
Stunned by the level of musicians in the New York City area, he quickly dropped his music education degree in the first year and concentrated all of his efforts and studies in jazz. He took every available course that was offered, including taking piano lessons with James Weidman. He even had the opportunity to learn from the piano master himself, Mulgrew Miller, the director of jazz studies at the time.
During this time, Lin immersed himself into any musical situation he could; attending as many jam sessions in both New Jersey and New York City as possible to get his feet wet. He even began to pick up some local gigs around New Jersey and New York City. To increase his studies, he took lessons with trombone masters such as Frank Lacy, Steve Turre, Steve Davis, and Robin Eubanks.
After receiving his Bachelor of Music, Lin decided to take a position at Jazz House Kids as the ‘Emerging Musicians Concert Coordinator’; helping young musicians perform at various occasions and events through the non-profit organization. He even held a position as ‘Assistant Manager of Summer Workshop’; re-organizing the entire jazz summer program to Montclair State University and aiding the staff in handling over 200 students, all while performing whenever he could with various bands.
Looking to find a more musical performing path, he made a decision to complete a Master of Music degree in jazz performance at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where he had the chance to study with trombone virtuoso, Conrad Herwig.
On one particular night at a big band performance, a life changing experience happened; he met the legendary NEA Jazz Master Slide Hampton. Lin credits Slide Hampton for a lot of his musical inspiration – “I don’t think jazz trombone or arranging would be the way it is now if it wasn’t for Slide Hampton’s contributions. I am heavily influenced by his playing and writing, to the point that I wanted to be exactly like him.”
Not only did he meet him, but he had the chance to work and play with Slide Hampton almost every day for two years. Lin explains it like this — “I had a research project from Dr. Lewis Porter that required us to do one interview with a musician. Since I had met Slide Hampton, I decided to ask if I could interview him, and he agreed! I went over to his apartment the next week. The interview was amazing enough, as we had talked for about two hours. When I thought it was time to go, I remarked that ‘I would like to play with you one day’ and he said ‘how about now?’ We played tunes for about an additional two hours. He asked me to come back. The rest is history…” From that point, Peter helped to organize some big events and concerts for Slide Hampton throughout the east coast for about two years. The highlight of that experience is when Peter played on Slide Hampton’s 85th Birthday Celebration with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, George Coleman, Steve Turre, Steve Davis, & Victor Lewis.
Upon graduation and his stint with Slide Hampton, Lin gigged around both New Jersey and New York City with some established artists such as Winard Harper, Charli Persip, JD Allen, Valerie Ponomarev, and Radam Schwartz. Lin had established his own band earlier during his undergraduate years, The Lintet, which gained a positive reputation throughout the area.
With The Lintet, he recorded his first self-released album With Respect in 2018. This particular album’s repertoire featured jazz renditions of classic Taiwanese and Chinese songs. Featuring artists like Winard Harper, James Zollar, and Anthony Nelson Jr., the album placed #4 on the RMR Jazz Charts and #3 on the NACC charts.
Feeling the necessity to push his own compositions and material, he formed the TNT Quartet which features JD Allen on tenor saxophone, Ian Kenselaar on bass, and Nic Cacioppo on drums. This chord-less setup allowed Peter to explore new sounds and ideas, similar to painting on an empty canvas with a variety of brushes. After prolifically gigging around town, they entered the studio in 2019 and recorded New Age Old Ways. The repertoire consists of all Lin’s original compositions and arrangements.
Peter, the adventurous entrepreneur and artist, decided to enlist the help of his illustrator, Kelly Lin, to create a comic book that accompanies the album New Age Old Ways. An original story by Lin, this comic book features the band in a futuristic setting.
Peter continues to not only perform prolifically throughout the world, but he also is known as an established educator and activist in the north Jersey region. Primarily a teaching artist at Jazz House Kids, he also conducts masterclasses at various school systems throughout the tristate area. He also spends his time as a board member at New Jersey Jazz Society as well as running numerous organizations and social media pages such as Yardbird Entertainment and NJ Jazz Society.
Peter Lin stuck close to the north Jersey area; performing at various clubs throughout both New Jersey and New York City.