In Manhattan, University of Memphis graduate Peter Colin Jr. leads a busy schedule that includes teaching jazz to middle-school students. Colin, who earned his bachelor of music degree from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music in 2009, agreed to tell VOICES ONLINE why he loves jazz and his continued connection to the UofM.
Question: You teach Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy. How did you land that job? What’s it like working and living in New York City?
Answer: I applied after clerking in their legal department while finishing law school. I love working and living in NYC. It’s always happening, but like Memphis, you have to hustle to make rent. I applied after clerking in their legal department while finishing law school.
Q: Why are you a jazz musician? Has that always been your preferred genre?
A: I love jazz, and grew up listening to Wayne Henderson especially, although my preferred genres are blues and soul. I’m a horn player because coming up, my musical diet was heavy on B.B. King (who was very kind to me as a young musician) and the Stax catalog.
Q: Do you spend most of your time teaching, or do you also get to perform?
A: I do play around Manhattan, but most of my time is spent teaching. I’m not here to make my name at 3 a.m. hangs anymore just to get a chance to make a call list.
Q: Why did you choose the UofM?
A: I didn’t at first, but as I was looking at what would best position me for a job, the relationships and networks of professors and alumni were invaluable for me.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at the UofM?
A: “College Gameday” for Memphis vs. Tennessee with Mighty Sound of the South. That whole week was bananas.
Q: How did the UofM’s Scheidt School of Music prepare you for your career?
A: I had professors preach versatility and dependability. I got so many jobs because I responded fast and could pick up different styles or instruments. Being first to answer and able to handle different asks still keep me employed today.
Q: What was your favorite class at the UofM?
A: Probably University Orchestra, because we played some wonderful repertoire.
Q: If you could play with any other musician, who would it be, and why?
A: I’d love to work with Tay Keith. He’s undeniably the next creative innovator coming out of the city, and I love to merge horns and hip hop. Otherwise, if Prince were still alive, I’d want a chance to play with him. I don’t know if there was another musician who just effortlessly created art as much as him.
Q: If you were recruiting a student to attend the UofM, what would you tell them about the university and the Scheidt School?
A: Every school has opportunities and faculty that can help, but what makes Memphis special is the depth of musicianship students are encouraged to tap, and the range of musical styles, cultures and experiences you can only find here.
Q: When you return to Memphis for a visit, what is your one must-do activity? A certain bar or restaurant? Something else?
A: BBQ. New York has just about everything, but it doesn’t have that.
(Photos courtesy of Peter Colin Jr.)
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