"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

About

Justin Kauflin

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

Kauflin's execution, his ability to ripple waves of notes from the keyboard flawlessly and evoke colorful meadows of sound is unquestionably superb"

-DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE

“Kauflin's strengths are a concern for touch and dynamics, a willingness to explore harmonic depth & swing ...  He can take a simple motif like the Beatles' Day in the Life and make a swinging concerto out of it." 

-LOS ANGELES TIMES

Justin at piano, white cane folded under bench. Photo by John Lewis Marshall

“... It was clear that he was different from his peers, but not because he was blind. He seemed to have an inner peace ... his calmness and serenity could be heard when he played" 

-HOWARD STONE, VAIL JAZZ WORKSHOP

"Justin's playing is not just precise technically but absolutely crystalline in execution, and he holds nothing back intellectually, rather than show off, he is more concerned with creating musical structures" -JAZZ IN EUROPE

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 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.

"... His sense of faith in himself, the power of music, as well as in God shines through on every track ... so does his deep sense of humility and abundant passion for life" -TOM ROBOTHAM on INTRODUCING

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 being chronicled by friend and fellow musician, Al Hicks (Al Hicks Films). 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 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 and remained in the top 10 spot for 9 straight weeks.  Justin went on to record on 17 more 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. 

"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

He composed original score for There with Care promotional videos (2016-22), full-length documentaries "My Sister Liv" (2022 - produced by Alan Hicks and Paula Dupre Pesman), and "Reflection - A Walk with Water" (2021 - produced by Emmett Brennan).  Jacob Collier and Justin collaborated on the single for Reflection entitled 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 to promote accessibility for the visually-impaired.

The 2020 pandemic gave rise to several projects:  The Quarantine Series livestreams;  solo  live-streamed concerts; 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, and his first-ever live recording at Sam First "Justin Kauflin Trio Live at Sam First" digitally released on April 9, 2022 (Sam First Records) with a vinyl release scheduled for March 2023.  

Justin is a Yamaha Artist and Quincy Jones Artist.

"If there is one thing I want to resonate, it is my spirituality. That is something extremely important to me in my own life and something that I want to share: Music, whether you are religious or not, is a spiritual experience" -JK in ALL ABOUT JAZZ