Asian Songs Reimagined for Jazz

“Sweet Honey” was one of the signature songs of the iconic Taiwanese vocalist Teresa Teng. According to, “Her voice moved generations of Chinese people and, once, perhaps it offered spiritual solace for youngsters of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Music has changed a lot since then. But ‘Sweet Honey’, continues to resonate with those it touched long ago and with new fans who discover it every year.”

On Thursday night, August 31, the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Collective, led by trombonist Peter Lin, reimagined “Sweet Honey” as a jazz tune, one of several interpretations of Asian folk and popular songs performed at the New Brunswick Jazz Project’s Thursday night jazz series at Tavern on George. Another jazz conversion featured “Forgotten Time”, a song performed by Taiwanese singer Tsai Chin in the 2002 Hong Kong-based crime film series, Infernal Affairs.

The quintet, featuring the dynamic alto saxophonist Erena Terakubo, also treated the crowd during the first set to two jazz standards – Harold Arlen’s “My Shining Hour” and Jule Styne’s “It’s You or No One”. On the latter tune, tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon was coaxed up from the audience to be part of a spirited finale. Earlier in the program, another guest was tap dancer Megha Vadehra. Lin and Terakubo were joined by pianist Mike Bond, bassist Daseul Kim, and drummer Tomohiro Mori. (Photo above, from left, Lin, Terakubo, Mori).

The AAPI Jazz Collective, a diverse group of established AAPI identifying jazz musicians and artists, specializes in performing classic repertoire from various Asian cultures reimagined within a jazz context.-STORY AND PHOTO BY SANFORD JOSEPHSON


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The New Jersey Jazz Society (NJJS) is a non-profit organization of business and professional people, musicians, teachers, students and listeners working together for the purpose of advancing jazz music.