Justin Kauflin

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Justin Kauflin
Justin Kauflin.jpg
Justin Kauflin on Quincy Jones' 2013 World Tour
Background information
Born (1986-03-10) March 10, 1986 (age 33)
Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Years active2001–present
LabelsQwest, Harmonia Mundi/Jazz Village, Justin Kauflin Music
Associated actsClark Terry, Quincy Jones, Mulgrew Miller

Justin Kauflin (born March 10, 1986) is an American jazz pianist,[1] composer, educator and record producer.


Justin Kauflin and
Thomas Fonnesbæk
in Denmark 2016

Justin Kauflin[2] was born in Silver Spring, Maryland before moving to Virginia Beach, Virginia with his family. As a child he learned classical music on violin and piano. Starting at the age of six, he was performing in concerts, nursing homes, and weddings, eventually becoming concertmaster for several orchestras.

When Kauflin was eleven, he lost his eyesight due to proliferative exudative retinopathy.[3] He adjusted by learning Braille and cane mobility, and switching to jazz piano at the Governor's School for Performing Arts. He studied with Liz Barnes and John Toomey, a professor of jazz at Old Dominion University. In jazz festivals throughout the U.S. he received top honors and began performing professionally at the age of fifteen with the Jae Sinnett Trio.

In 2004 Kauflin graduated in the top 1% at Salem High School with an Advanced Academic diploma and Valedictorian at the Governor's School for the Arts, receiving a Presidential scholarship to attend William Paterson University[4] in New Jersey. At the university, his mentor was Clark Terry, and he played in the Clark Terry Ensemble. He was also influenced by Harold Mabern and Mulgrew Miller.

In 2008 he moved to New York City and at age 23 produced, led, composed, and performed on his first album, Introducing Justin Kauflin.[5]

Kauflin's relationship with Clark Terry was depicted in the documentary Keep On Keepin' On,[6][7] which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 2014 and won both Heineken Audience and Best New Documentary Director Awards.[3] Kauflin is credited for the film score with Dave Grusin.[8]

Beginning in 2011, Kauflin performed with his own trio, as well as the Jae Sinnett Trio, in clubs in Virginia and across the country. He won the VSA International Young Soloist Award, was selected as semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition in 2011, voted as "Jazz Artist of the Year" in VEER magazine, and was hired by Quincy Jones.[9] From 2013–2014 he was part of Jones's world tour in Switzerland, France, Korea, and Japan. He worked with Jones on the album Dedication (2015).[10] Following the release, his trio performed in festivals, concerts, and clubs in Europe and America.

Since the release of Keep On Keepin' On Justin has gone on to record on 10 more albums, 3 as leader or co-leader (Silent Night, Coming Home and Synesthesia). In 2015, Kauflin participated in the commemorative album Oscar, With Love, a collection of previously unrecorded songs written by jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.[11]

After completing an extensive CD release world tour for Coming Home (Jan-Feb 2019)[12] Justin is currently working on original film scores and new music for 2 very different albums, as well as being on faculty for several jazz camps.


As leader[edit]

  • Introducing Justin Kauflin (Justin Kauflin Music 2010)[13][14]
  • Justin Kauflin Live at The Edye Broad Stage EP (Qwest, 2014)
  • Dedication (Qwest/Harmonia Mundi, 2015)[15]
  • Synesthesia (Thomas Fonnesbaek & Justin Kauflin - Storyville 2017)
  • Silent Night (Justin Kauflin Music 2017)
  • Coming Home (Justin Kauflin Music/Qwest 2018)[16]

As sideman[edit]

  • Frank Hauch (Frank Hauch, 2004)
  • Sinnett Hearings (JNett, 2005)
  • Equilibrium (Etan Haziza, 2007)
  • An Evening with the Jae Sinnett Trio DVD (JNett, 2009)
  • Roxy Coss (Roxy Coss, 2010)
  • Theatre (Jae Sinnett, 2010)
  • Old School Loyalty (House and Sinnett, 2011)
  • Still Standing (Jae Sinnett, 2012)
  • This Just In (Brian McCarthy, 2014)
  • See Dream Blues (Rob DuGuay, 2014)
  • CT and WP: A Perfect Match (Clark Terry, 2014)
  • When Trees Speak (Jimmy Masters, 2014)
  • Subject to Change (JNett, 2014)
  • Keep On Keepin' On Soundtrack (Varèse Sarabande, 2015)
  • Safe in Sound (Rob Duguay, 2016)
  • Oscar, with Love (Kelly Peterson, 2016)
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature (Brian McCarthy, 2017)
  • Offbeat (Katie Thiroux, 2017)
  • Codex (Brian McCarthy, 2017)
  • Americana Groove Project (Jae Sinnett, 2018)
  • Sharing (Thomas Fonnesbaek, 2018)


  1. ^ Naser, Paul and Reyes, Dan Michael (April 6, 2015). "6 Young Pianists You Should Know About". Revive Music.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Ollison, Rashod (November 17, 2014). "Jazz Master, Virginia Beach Protege Inspire New Film". The Virginian-Pilot.
  3. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn (28 September 2014). "Something in Common With His Mentor". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  4. ^ Stoll, Barbara (November 22, 2014). "Justin Kauflin: Bringing Joy through Jazz". William Paterson Magazine.
  5. ^ Lang, Joe (May 2010). "Introducing Justin Kauflin Review, p 32" (PDF). Jersey Jazz.
  6. ^ Friend, Tad (November 3, 2014). "Protege". The New Yorker.
  7. ^ trandall517 (April 19, 2014). "Keep on Keepin' On (2014)". IMDb. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  8. ^ King, Susan (September 19, 2014). "Fate has a starring role in Keep On Keepin' On". LA Times.
  9. ^ Barbour, Clayton (February 16, 2014). "Justin Kauflin: Finding His Voice". Distinction Magazine.
  10. ^ Zimmerman, Brian (January 2015). "Editors' Picks". DownBeat Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
  11. ^ "Oscar, With Love". Oscar, With Love.
  12. ^ Ozuna, Tony (February 2019). "Facing Up to Lifes Challenges-Justin Kauflin on Tour in Europe". Jazz in Europe.
  13. ^ Bilawsky, Dan (February 1, 2011). "Introducing Justin Kauflin". All About Jazz.
  14. ^ Lake, Marvin (March 19, 2010). "Introducing Justin Kauflin". The Virginian-Pilot.
  15. ^ "Downbeat Review of Dedication". www.downbeat.com. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
  16. ^ "Coming Home".