"Simply beautiful Cat... 

You can feel it in every note he plays"

-QUINCY JONES

"He's a monster on the piano!

and one of the greatest people I know"

-CLARK TERRY

"His spirit and spirituality shines through his playing"

-MULGREW MILLER

"His playing impressed me,

and everyone I knew, tremendously"

-OSCAR PETERSON

Justin Kauflin is a jazz pianist, composer, producer and educator.  He appears on 30+ albums as sideman or guest, has produced 9 albums as leader and recorded over 50 original compositions for albums and film.  He is a Quincy Jones Artist and Yamaha Artist. 

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

BIO

Born March 10, 1986 in Silver Spring, MD, Justin began music at age 4 with Suzuki violin. After a decade of classical violin and piano, he switched to jazz piano in high school at the Governor's School for Performing Arts (VA) studying with Liz Barnes and Old Dominion University's John Toomey. He attended the Vail Jazz Workshop (CO), Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Residency (DC) and received top honors in jazz festivals across the U.S. He began performing jazz professionally at age 15, most notably with the Jae Sinnett Trio and spanning over 15 years.

In 2004, Justin attended William Paterson University (NJ) where he was taken under the wings of legendary trumpeter, Clark Terry and became a member of the Clark Terry Ensemble. He also had the privilege of learning from his heroes, Mulgrew Miller and Harold Mabern. He graduated summa cum laude, moved to NYC, and at age 23 led, composed, performed and produced his debut CD, Introducing Justin Kauflin.

In 2012, he served as House Pianist at Havana Nights Jazz Club (VA) where his trio headlined regularly. In that year, he won the VSA International Young Soloist Award, was voted VEER's Jazz Artist of the Year and was selected as semifinalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

During this time, Justin's relationship with mentor Clark Terry was chronicled by friend and fellow musician, Al Hicks. Five years in the making, the resultant documentary, Keep On Keepin' On, won numerous awards and made the Oscar's Short List. Justin composed & performed the film score with additional music provided by Dave Grusin. 

 

He was subsequently signed for management by legendary producer and music icon, Quincy Jones, who oversaw Justin's second and fourth full-length albums, Dedication (2015) and Coming Home (2018). Dedication debuted at #6 on CMJ Jazz chart, #10 on Billboard's Traditional Jazz Chart, hit #1 on JazzWeek's chart and remained in the top 10 spot for 9 straight weeks.  Justin went on to record on 16 albums, 6 as leader: Coming Home  (2018)  produced by Derrick Hodge, Synesthesia (2017), duo album co-produced with Thomas Fonnesbaek, Silent Night (2017) solo Christmas album featuring Jacob Collier on the title track, Christmas Candy (2019) EP titled for his retired Seeing Eye dog, Standards (2020) and the single release Flow Freely in collaboration with Jacob Collier. 

 

He composed original score for There with Care promotional videos (2016-21),  the documentary short, Liv (2020) being re-released in 2022 as a full-length documentary, My Sister Liv (produced by Alan Hicks and Paula Dupre Pesman), and the documentary, Reflection - A Walk with Water by Emmett Brennan.  Jacob Collier and Justin collaborated on the single for the documentary, Flow Freely (2021).

The Justin Kauflin Trio toured extensively in Europe from 2014-2019.  As a Jazz Ambassador (U.S. Department of State & VSA), Justin gave concerts & workshops stateside and abroad, as well as increase disability awareness and promote accessibility for the visually-impaired.

The current pandemic has resulted in several projects:  The Quarantine Series livestreams;  solo  live-streamed concerts for Sam First & Bacchus’ Kitchen; Gen2Gen podcast celebrating Clark Terry's Centennial year; JK’s Producer Series showcasing and comparing various VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology); live-streamed jazz camps (Jazz Maui); original film score for 2 documentaries (My Sister Liv & Reflection-A Walk with Water); and his first-ever live recording at Sam First planned for release on April 9, 2022 (Sam First Records).

Justin is a Yamaha Artist and Quincy Jones Artist.

"Kauflin favors a clarity of touch and ideas...His writing is also balanced, tempering post-bop intricacies with the assurances of the gospel church" -NEW YORK TIMES

MEDIA

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

"Being blind is only a part of who we are ... it should never be something that defines us"  -JK

Justin was diagnosed with exudative retinopathy, with knife-like folds enveloping the macula in both eyes, at 7 months of age. He received services in physical and cognitive therapy at age 2 and began learning Braille in 5th grade through the Public School Systems in Maryland and Virginia.  After undergoing 13 surgeries between the ages of 5-11, he lost all vision. Subsequent surgeries include the enucleation of both eyes. Itinerant Vision & Vocational Rehab Services taught "Orientation & Mobility" with the white cane and additional grades of Braille (literary, music & math).

Throughout his time at William Paterson University, he obtained an invaluable service through the National Library Service of the Library of Congress which delivers brailled classical scores upon request, free of charge.

 

Following graduation from WPU he moved to Brooklyn, NY which spurred him to attend The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ, training 24/7 for a month with a black lab named Candy.  Justin and Candy navigated through NYC's subways and sidewalks, and on trains, busses, and planes stateside and abroad.  Candy quietly attended every performance and recording session for an incredible 12 years.

 

Descriptive Video Services (DVS) has made the whole 'movie-going' experience enjoyable, and  increasingly more companies are incorporating DVS to make shows accessible to the blind (Netflix). The ADA Act (Americans with Disabilities) has made travel and restaurant-going less prohibitive, though most car services and taxis in NY do not abide by it!  The U.S. Department of State 'Jazz Ambassadorship,' which incorporated "Disability Awareness" into their Jazz Week Tour, sends an encouraging note to countries lacking assistive programs along with world-class jazz performances and student workshops. In addition to these services & programs, companies like Apple (built-in screen readers & GPS on their phones), Native Instruments/Komplete Kontrol & Avid Sibelius (accessible music production & software) have enabled Justin to live, travel and work as independently, safely and enjoyably as possible.

"A Look into the Mind of Justin Kauflin" 

Transition to Blindness 

ACCESSIBILITY RESOURCES

Native Instruments - Accessibility in Music Production

The National Library Service offers brailled scores, free of charge