Tim Lin


Linsanity Music

Tim Lin is a young tenor and soprano-saxophonist who has his own individual sound and a personal style within jazz’s modern mainstream. He flies over chord changes (even complex reharmonized ones) with apparent ease, sounding relaxed during his double-time runs while not being shy to caress strong melodies. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, he is now based in New York.

Following up on the success of his first release as a leader, Romance In Formosa, Tim Lin utilizes the same superb rhythm section (pianist Andy Laverne, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Billy Drummond) on Empathy, his exploration of six standards and two originals. While he sometimes is reminiscent of a classic hard bop player on tenor, Lin really does not sound like any of his predecessors. It is always a major achievement when a player develops their own musical identity.

The program begins with “If I Should Lose You.” Lin at first floats a bit in his phrasing, as if he is thinking about possibly losing someone, and then the performance cooks. His “Table Steaks” (which utilizes the chords of Benny Golson’s “Stablemates”) has him stating the melody in unison with bassist Anderson and features a particularly swinging piano solo. On the rarely-performed but superior standard “Namely You,” the quartet shows that they can construct a concise and very complete performance within three minutes, just like in the days of ‘78s.

On Andy Laverne’s consistently passionate modal original “Forth Right,” Tim Lin contributes some blazing soprano sax. Bill Evans’ classic “Waltz For Debby” is given a different interpretation than usual with Laverne’s reharmonized chords making the performance more wistful and introspective than one might expect. Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” is also modernized a bit and is noteworthy for Laverne’s inventive statement and Lin’s creative soprano playing over its closing vamp. An unusual drum pattern by Drummond inspires the creative playing on “I Wish I Knew” before the enjoyable program concludes with an uptempo version of “Speak Low.”

Empathy is a strong step forward for Tim Lin, a saxophonist who one will be hearing a lot more from in the future.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 12 books