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Born in Silver Spring, MD, Justin Kauflin began music at age 4 with Suzuki violin, adding piano a few years later. By age 6, he was performing professionally.
However, he also endured numerous trials, particularly losing total vision from exudative retinopathy by age 11. He adjusted by learning 4 types of Braille, cane mobility and, after a decade of classical violin and piano, switched to jazz piano in high school at the Governor's School for Performing Arts studying with Liz Barnes and Old Dominion University's John Toomey. He attended the Vail Jazz Workshop, Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Residency, 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.
In 2004, Justin graduated at the top of his class alongside his sighted peers at Salem High and the Governor's School, receiving a Presidential scholarship to attend William Paterson University in New Jersey. At WPU, he was taken under the wings of legendary trumpeter, Clark Terry and was a member in the Clark Terry Ensemble. He also had the tremendous privilege of learning from his hero, the late Mulgrew Miller, as well as Harold Mabern and the late James Williams. While attending William Paterson, he accepted any opportunity to sit in, and/or perform with his trio, in New York City. graduated summa cum laude in 2008, moved to NYC and, at age 23 produced, led, composed and performed on his first CD, Introducing Justin Kauflin. His personnel included high school buddy Billy Williams, Phil Kuehn, Etan Haziza and Tim Green.
In NYC, he was hit with the realization that "visionless independent mobility" is painstakingly slow at best and life-threatening at worst. This led him to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he trained 24/7 for a month with an amazing black lab named Candy.
In 2011, Justin relocated to Virginia Beach where the Justin Kauflin Trio headlined regularly at Havana Nights Jazz Club, and where he also served as House Pianist. He performed around the country with his own trio or with the Jae Sinnett Trio; won the VSA International Young Soloist Award; was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" in VEER Magazine; and selected as semifinalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.
Simultaneously 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 is also credited for its filmscore along with veteran Dave Grusin.
Subsequently, Justin was signed by legendary producer and music icon, Quincy Jones for management, and in 2013 and 2014, was part of Quincy Jones' World Tours.
In addition to promoting Keep On Keepin' On across the country, Justin worked with Quincy Jones on his second full-length CD and debut album for Jazz Village. DEDICATION was released January 2015 and 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. The
Keep On Keepin' On:
Jazz: Justin Kauflin at Ronnie Scott’s, W1 — February 22, 2017, The Times
"Having Quincy Jones as your mentor is one way of standing out in a crowded field of ultra-accomplished technocrats. What gives the American pianist Justin Kauflin another edge over his rivals is the soulfulness of his repertoire. There may be passages when, like many a neo-bop young lion, he indulges in muscle-flexing for its own sake, but this is a musician who wants to do more than make you admire his virtuosity."
Jazz pianists team up for benefit concert at ODU - January 17, 2016
Listen: Justin Kauflin at Fasching Club in Stockholm (October 8 2015) -January 17, 2016
Justin Kauflin Trio & David Pastor com a convidat al Jambore (Review) - October 15, 2015
Justin Kauflin: Dedication (Review) - All About Jazz, September 24, 2015
Acclaimed pianist Justin Kauflin has a free show in Gloucester on Saturday - Daily Press, September 17, 2015
Acclaimed Pianist Justin Kauflin Does It His Way at Old Lyme Jazz Club - WNPR, September 9, 2015
Justin Kauflin On Song Travels- NPR, September 4, 2015
Dedicated to You - Jazzwise Magazine, September, 2015
Jason Moran, Justin Kauflin and D'Angelo Shine at Montreux Jazz Festival - Jazzwise Magazine, July 22, 2015
Quincy Jones Presents the Future of Music with Jacob Collier and Justin Kauflin at Ronnie Scott's - Jazzwise Magazine, May 20, 2015
Live Studio Session: Justin Kauflin - Still Keepin' On - KPLU 88.5, June 18, 2015
Encores & Curtain Calls: Film documents musical genius Justin Kauflin and his mentor - The Recorder, May 20, 2015
Five questions for Justin Kauflin, mostly about Clark Terry - Ottawa Citizen, February 26, 2015
Jazz Pianist Justin Kauflin's Dedication is heartfelt - Montreal Gazette, January 13, 2015
"Keep on Keepin' On" wins IDFA Melkweg Music Documentary Audience Award - December 2, 2014
Protégé - The New Yorker, November 3, 2014
Drummer, Quincy Jones collaborate on film about jazz great Terry - October 29, 2014
Quincy Jones and Justin Kauflin discuss being mentored by jazz legend Clark Terry - Today Show, Oct. 26, 2014
“Keep On Keepin’ On” With Justin Kauflin - the Queen Latifah Show, September 29, 2014
Something in Common With His Mentor - Talking to Justin Kauflin - New York Times, September 26, 2014
How Jazz Pioneer Clark Terry Helped A Blind Piano Prodigy Become A Star - The Huffington Post, September 24, 2014
Fate has a starring role in 'Keep On Keepin' On' - Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2014
Sense of Play: Meet Jazz’s Prodigious New Talent - Style.com, April 22, 2014
Thomas Duport, Quincy Jones Productions
- Introducing Justin Kauflin (QWest, 2010)