"What gives the American pianist, Justin Kauflin another edge over his rivals is his soulfulness ... This is a musician who wants to do more than make you admire his virtuosity" THE TIMES
Justin Kauflin is a “jazz pianist who favors a clarity of touch and ideas...his writing is balanced tempering post-bop intricacies with the assurances of the gospel church” -New York Times. After losing his sight at the age of 11, Kauflin gravitated towards playing jazz piano, despite having a background in classical violin & piano, and began performing jazz professionally by age 14, most notably with the Jae Sinnett Trio. In 2004, he attended William Paterson University, NJ and studied with his heroes, Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern, as well as with the legendary Clark Terry (2010 Grammy award winner for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz).
Justin has produced 10 recordings as leader, with his first-ever vinyl live recording, Justin Kauflin Trio Live at Sam First being released this March 2023. He has collaborated as sideman on over 30 albums, with his latest including Flow Freely (Jacob Collier), After | Life (Brian MCarthy), Acceptance (Eddie Williams), Bypass and Sun Song (Chris Brydge). A third duo album with Thomas Fonnesbaek is due out later this year.
He scored, and is featured in, the award-winning documentary Keep On Keepin' On. His latest film scoring projects include a nationally & internationally-aired Nestle Nespresso commercial Unforgettable Taste, two full length documentaries, My Sister Liv (Al Hicks) and Reflection - A Walk with Water (Emmett Brennan), the trailer score for Quincy Jones' new book, 12 Notes on Life and Creativity, and musical contributions to Nickelodeon's animated movie Blue's Big City Adventure, the audiobook version of 12 Notes on Life and Creativity, and the upcoming documentary about post traumatic growth, Full Circle (Josh Berman/Mark Crawford).
Justin continues Clark Terry's passion for jazz education through the KOKO Jazz Outreach which includes a screening of "Keep On Keepin' On," Q&A, student workshops and jam sessions. As a U.S. Department of State Jazz Ambassador Justin gives workshops & concerts worldwide, and has been on faculty for the Monterey Jazz Festival, Centrum Port Townsend Jazz, Vail Jazz Workshop, Lionel Hampton Jazz and Notre Dame Jazz with John Clayton and Jazz Maui with Katie Thiroux.
Currently, Justin is creating new sounds, composing for film & music projects, and serving as an adjunct faculty member at the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA (Instrumental Music).
Justin Kauflin is signed for management by impresario and music icon, Quincy Jones and is a Yamaha Artist.
Keep On Keepin' On
"There are some guys that are vicious, uptight and evil ... and they sound vicious, uptight and evil!" -Clark Terry
ASSISTIVE PROGRAMS & TECHNOLOGY
"Being blind is only a part of who we are ... It should never be something that defines us" -Justin
At 7 months of age, Justin was diagnosed with exudative retinopathy in both eyes, rendering him totally blind by age 11. (VIDEO: A Look into the Mind of Justin Kauflin). The following assistive programs have enabled Justin to study, live, travel and work as independently, safely and enjoyably as possible.
The Virginia Beach public school system provided instruction in literary/music/math braille and 'orientation & mobility' with the white cane. The National Library Service of the Library of Congress, WDC delivered braille classical scores free of charge, while he studied at William Paterson University in New Jersey. (VIDEO: A conversation with Justin Kauflin)
Upon graduation from WPU, Justin moved to New York City and applied for a guide dog at The Seeing Eye (VIDEO: Harnessing Freedom). Seeing Eye dog Candy navigated Justin through NYC's subways & sidewalks and traveled on trains, busses and planes; and she quietly attended every performance and recording session for 12 years.
Federal programs like the Americans with Disabilities Act have made travel and restaurants less prohibitive, and the U.S. Department of State Jazz Ambassador program and Kennedy Center VSA advocates awareness worldwide (VIDEOS: American Days CLIP 1 & CLIP 2).
Movie theaters and companies like Netflix & Apple have incorporated descriptive video services (DVS) and standardized screen readers & GPS on phones; and companies like Native Instruments and Avid Sibelius are creating accessible music production and software (VIDEO: NI NKS Accessibility).
These programs and innovations are critical in supplying the tools necessary for visually-impaired/blind musician/producers to study, navigate, perform and produce music in a "sighted" world.